Northern Arizona Healthcare (NAH) holds the safety of the patients, families and communities it serves, as well as its valued colleagues, physicians and volunteers providing exceptional care, as its highest priority. Almost two years into the COVID-19 pandemic and facing another surge in infections, hospitalizations and deaths, NAH has made the important decision to require its full workforce to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. This decision is consistent with NAH’s mission of Improving Health, Healing People, and follows significant study, discussion and consideration. Colleagues must be fully vaccinated by December 31, 2021. There will be a process for individuals to apply for certain medical and religious exemptions.
Our decision, interestingly, has come right before President Biden’s announcement that staff within Medicare and Medicaid certified facilities, like NAH, will be required to be COVID-19 vaccinated. Although many may disagree with this action from the President, we can all agree that there is no higher priority than patient health and safety.
NAH is proud to have made this decision in its own and proactive consideration of all whom count on the organization for care. “Providing the safest environment for those who come to us for care, as well as for our colleagues, is how we live up to the trust our communities place in us. The rising threat of more damage to be done by the Delta and other variants on the horizon has made it clear that the time is now to take action,” said Flo Spyrow, Northern Arizona Healthcare’s president and chief executive officer. “The overwhelming evidence that the COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective supports this, enabling us to protect our patients and colleagues, and ultimately slowing the spread of this deadly virus in our communities.”
“With new variants taking hold, causing rising COVID-19 numbers in our hospitals, locally and regionally, we know that our communities also cannot afford further strain on the existing staffing challenges faced by us locally, and by healthcare systems across the country,” Spyrow continued. “Our colleagues have been in the line of fire since the start of the pandemic, under challenging and unprecedented circumstances to continue delivering needed care close to home. It’s time now to make sure they receive what they need to be as safe as possible not just as healthcare workers, but as members of their families, leaders in their communities and contributors overall.”
An exemption process is available for NAH colleagues who have a medical reason or sincerely held religious belief that preclude them from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Northern Arizona Healthcare has similar vaccination requirements for colleagues to be protected from viruses like influenza.
Today’s announcement also aligns with the Center for Disease Control, the Coconino County Health Department, the Yavapai County Health Department and other governing organizations across the state of Arizona whom have strongly recommended COVID-19 vaccine requirements for all, for many months. NAH stands with these respected organizations in putting the safety of patients, families and colleagues first.
Currently, about 80% of NAH colleagues have indicated that they have already become fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or intend to receive the vaccination. The organization has many initiatives planned to support colleagues choosing to be fully vaccinated by December 31st. Northern Arizona Healthcare strongly believes that each and every colleague, physician and volunteer are valued members of the team and that NAH is definitely “better together” in such collaboration. In addition to COVID-19 vaccines, Northern Arizona Healthcare continues to follow other safety measures to prevent the virus’ spread, including requiring masks in all buildings, limiting visitation, and reducing capacity in public spaces to encourage physical distancing. For the latest COVID information, including a view of our COVID-19 Dashboard, visit www.nahealth.com/COVID-19. Details about the exemption request process will be shared with colleagues this week.
NAH is inclusive of Flagstaff Medical Center, Verde Valley Medical Center, Verde Valley Medical Center – Sedona Campus, Northern Arizona Healthcare – Camp Verde Campus, Northern Arizona Healthcare – Village of Oak Creek, Northern Arizona Healthcare Medical Group, the Cancer Centers of Northern Arizona Healthcare, Northern Arizona Healthcare Orthopedic Surgery Center, EntireCare Rehab & Sports Medicine, Weight Management Clinic, Northern Arizona Healthcare Medical Group – Cardiology, Guardian Air and Guardian Medical Transport. We also provide comprehensive imaging, laboratory and pharmacy services throughout the region.
For more information on NAH programs and services, visit NAHealth.com. “Like” NAH on Facebook by searching Northern Arizona Healthcare Flagstaff and Northern Arizona Healthcare Verde Valley. Follow NAH on Instagram by searching Northern Arizona Healthcare.