The Journal Gazette
Thursday, November 18, 2021 1:00 am

Hospitals work on vaccination plans


Hospital employees in Fort Wayne will soon be getting vaccinated against COVID-19 – if a recent federal mandate remains unchallenged.

Parkview Health and Lutheran Health Network spokeswomen said administrators are working on how to implement an emergency rule from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services so the facilities don't risk losing reimbursement.

The Nov. 5 rule calls for “all eligible staff” at more than 75,000 facilities that participate in Medicare or Medicaid to have at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by Dec. 6. Workers must be fully vaccinated by Jan. 4 or have an approved religious or medical exemption.

Tami Brigle, Parkview spokeswoman, said Parkview is developing a plan for employees. Which employees will be required to get vaccinated and other details remain unclear. 

“The majority of Parkview Health co-workers have been vaccinated,” Brigle said. “We are currently finalizing our plans for implementation of the federal mandate, which will apply to all of our co-workers.”

Lutheran Health Network providers are required to abide by the mandate to continue with Medicare and Medicaid, Lutheran officials said in a statement.  

“The majority of our caregivers already have chosen to be vaccinated, and more are making that choice now,” the statement says.

“We stand firm in our commitment to maintain a safe environment for our patients and caregivers,” the statement adds. “We appreciate the cooperation of our team during what has been a challenging time for everyone in healthcare.”

The Medicare/Medicaid mandate was challenged in recent days by Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita, who joined with a dozen other attorneys general in filing a lawsuit against it. 

The suit was the third Rokita filed against federal vaccination mandates.

He also was part of a challenge to an Occupational Safety and Health mandate that requires vaccinations for people who work in companies with 100 or more employees.

The OSHA mandate applies to hospitals, but it allows those who don't get vaccinated to submit to weekly testing. An appeals court's emergency ruling has prevented the OSHA mandate from going into effect.

State, local cases

Two northeast Indiana counties slipped back into the red on the state health department's newest weekly COVID-19 tracking map. LaGrange and DeKalb counties are in red – the map's most serious level and an indication that the virus is spreading widely in the community.

LaGrange has 262 cases per 100,000 residents and a 7-day positivity rate of 22.22%, an increase from last week. DeKalb has 648 cases per 100,000 residents and a positivity rate of 19.21%, also an increase from last week.

Allen County stands in the upper tier of the orange category, the second-most serious, along with Huntington, Kosciusko, Noble, Steuben and Wabash counties. Adams, Wells and Whitley, counties are in the lower tier of orange. The number of new COVID-19 infections reported Wednesday in Allen County residents rose to 273. The county also added three new deaths.

The total of county cases now stands at 62,605, while 848 deaths have been reported.

Statewide, 3,481 new cases and 41 deaths were reported Wednesday, bringing totals to 1,061,791 cases and 16,618 confirmed deaths, plus 573 deaths of patients based on symptoms but without a positive test.

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