Nebraska hospitals see vaccination rates increase after mandate

Published: Sep. 13, 2021 at 9:05 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Eight Nebraska hospital systems were some of the first to officially require COVID-19 vaccinations for employees.

Those deadlines haven’t hit yet but 10/11 NOW is checking in a month later. Hospital systems said they felt confident in those vaccine rates before mandates but that factors like FDA approval and rising Delta cases have seemed to play a role in their rising percentages.

Across Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals’ two campuses they’ve made a little progress since August. Its vaccination rate was at 80% a month ago. Monday it was at 82% with another 2% of employees who had initiated the vaccination process.

“I think it’s been relatively gradual, it’s just been a steady incline,” said Dr. Don Schmidt the Chief Medical Officer.

In total Madonna employs about 2,100 people across its systems. Which leaves about 335 who haven’t started the process.

Madonna does allow people to file medical or religious exemptions but says it hasn’t had anybody request one yet. It also says so far it hasn’t had anybody resign and cite that vaccine mandate as the reason.

“The religious exemptions were putting a team together to kind of look at those on an individual basis,” Schmidt said.

As of Sept. 7, 90.4% of Bryan Health’s 5,518 employees were fully vaccinated. Back in August its vaccination rate was about 85% fully vaccinated.

Two hundred and fifteen have started their vaccination process and gotten the first dose and another 60 are scheduled to receive the first dose this week.

That leaves about 255 people who have not started a process at all. Bryan says many of these people have submitted medical or religious exemptions to employee health for review and are subjected to weekly testing.

The first round of those began on Sept. 7, and it identified six positive results.

Both hospitals have specified that once their deadlines hit, Madonnas is Oct. 30 and Bryan on Nov. 1, that vaccination will become an employment requirement and those that do not have approved exemptions could be fired.

“I have complete confidence that that number is going to continue to trickle up and trickle up and this might not be that big of a deal in the long run,” Schmidt said.

10/11 NOW also reached out to CHI Health and UNMC Monday for an update. Both said they have the same vaccination requirements as announced in August but they won’t have any updates until plans are further along.

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