Aspirus provides details on COVID-19 vaccine requirements for employees
The Biden Administration on Nov. 4 announced the details of two policies to help fight COVID-19 by expanding vaccination requirements.
First, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is requiring employers with 100 or more employees to ensure that each of their workers is fully vaccinated or undergoes testing for COVID-19 on at least a weekly basis. This policy does not apply to Aspirus.
However, the second policy issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) does apply to Aspirus. It requires COVID-19 vaccinations for workers in most healthcare settings, including hospitals and health systems, that participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Aspirus Health has been preparing for months for the CMS mandate and will comply, a press release from Aspirus said. Healthcare organizations that do not comply risk losing Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement from the government.
“CMS is our licensing organization and we are obligated under this mandate to make sure that we continue with our conditions of participation,” said Aspirus SVP and Aspirus Wausau Hospital President Jeff Wicklander. “Also, to make sure that we create the safest environment for the patients in the communities that we serve.”
This means that Aspirus employees and medical staff members are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by specific dates or receive a valid medical or religious exemption.
“Within the mandate, there are exemptions for religious as well as medical reasons. Those individuals will have required testing after an approved exemption,” Wicklander said.
Businesses impacted by the new OSHA rules will be required to ensure each of their workers is fully vaccinated or begins testing on a weekly basis by Jan. 4, 2022. There are additional requirements in the rule related to reporting, record keeping and masking.
The CMS rule that applies to healthcare organizations across the country requires healthcare workers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Jan. 4, 2022, as well, with very limited exemptions.
As a part of those deadlines, the deadline to receive their first shot is Dec. 6, 2021, in order to facilitate full vaccination by the Jan. 4, 2022, date.
However, Aspirus has established an earlier deadline to allow time for the exemption process and ensure it can continue to serve the communities’ healthcare needs with excellence and compassion, according to the Aspirus press release.
“Aspirus Health has had a robust COVID-19 vaccination, education and testing program in place for several months and has encouraged vaccination for its employees and community members since the vaccines became available. COVID-19 vaccinations and booster doses are widely available to Aspirus employees and community members,” a Nov. 4 press release from Aspirus said.
“We are very much in support of the vaccination process regardless of what vaccine it is,” Wicklander said. “We know that it has been very effective for preventing hospitalizations and even those who are hospitalized are less ill than those who are unvaccinated.”
Vaccinations and booster doses are available through Aspirus. Appointments can be scheduled via the MyAspirus mobile app or the online patient portal at myaspirus.org. Appointments also can be made at Aspirus locations throughout Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula by calling 1.844.568.0707 or 715.843.1454.