Hospital execs share vaccination mandate progress in meeting with Biden

The CEOs of Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia said they shared the results of their organizations' COVID-19 vaccination mandates during a Sept. 15 meeting with President Joe Biden.

Greg Adams, chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente, and Madeline Bell, president and CEO of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, attended the meeting, as did executives from Walt Disney, Microsoft and Walgreens Boots Alliance and other companies. 

The meeting came days after President Biden announced that his administration's multipronged pandemic approach will require COVID-19 vaccinations of more than 17 million healthcare workers at Medicare- and Medicaid-participating hospitals and in other healthcare settings.  

"I highlighted the fact that children’s hospitals are currently seeing very high volumes of children with respiratory viruses, COVID-19 and behavioral health issues such as anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation," Ms. Bell told Becker's. "We talked about the impact the pandemic is having on children and the behavioral health challenges they are experiencing as a result of being isolated from their peers and being out of school. We also discussed how children are affected by their parents' anxiety about the pandemic."

Ms. Bell said she told President Biden the best way to protect children from COVID-19 is to ensure adults around them are inoculated, and that her organization's vaccine mandate is designed with that in mind.

Her biggest takeaway from the meeting: "Business leaders and government officials need to work together, and learn from each other to implement vaccine mandates efficiently and effectively. The mandates are among the strongest tools we have to protect our communities, our colleagues and our children from COVID-19."

Mr. Adams expressed similar sentiments in a statement he issued after the meeting.

"After a year-and-a-half of this virus controlling and taking away lives, we know that vaccination is the most powerful tool we have to stop this pandemic, to prevent more dangerous strains from developing and to restore the freedom of safety and normalcy," said Mr. Adams. "As a healthcare organization, Kaiser Permanente has an obligation to our 12.5 million members and patients — and to our employees, physicians and our communities to ensure their safety and to protect them from infection."

Kaiser has mandated vaccination for its more than 216,000 employees and more than 23,000 physicians by Sept. 30. Since Kaiser announced the mandate Aug. 2, the health system saw employee vaccination rates climb from 78 percent to nearly 90 percent, according to Mr. Adams. Kaiser's physician vaccination rates have reached 97 percent.

"The numbers continue to grow. Ultimately, our vaccine mandate is motivating our workforce to get educated, to get vaccinated and do their part to help end this pandemic. We have also extended the vaccine requirement to the tens of thousands of employees who work for our contractors, vendors and suppliers who enter Kaiser Permanente facilities each day," said Mr. Adams.

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia has seen an increase in vaccination among employees, too.

The hospital is requiring its 22,000-person workforce to be fully vaccinated (one Johnson & Johnson shot or two Pfizer or Moderna shots) by Oct. 20.

As of Sept. 15, 89 percent of the hospital's workforce had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

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