Tuesday, March 28, 2017
Important information about our system-wide review on measles, mumps, rubella immunizations
A message from Alan Levine, CEO/President of Mountain States:
As I’m sure you’ve all heard, there has been an increasing incidence of measles and mumps cases across the United States, including in Tennessee and Virginia. These diseases can pose a serious threat to vulnerable populations, including the patients we are charged with protecting.
That’s why, in the interest of protecting our patients and team members, Mountain States is undertaking a system-wide review to ensure all our team members have documented proof of immunity to measles, mumps and rubella (MMR). In the interest of patient safety, for the past year, we have required all new hires to show MMR immunity; the policy is now being extended to ALL team members, regardless of whether they work in patient care areas. This practice is common among other health systems, including our neighbors at Wellmont and Vanderbilt.
Measles is one of the most contagious diseases in the world. The virus can live for up to two hours in an airspace where the infected person coughed or sneezed.
According to our infection prevention experts, if other people breathe the contaminated air or touch the infected surface within that two-hour period, and then touch their eyes, noses or mouths, they can become infected. Measles is so contagious that if one person has it, 90 percent of the people who have been in close proximity to that person within the previous two hours and are not immune will also become infected.
Mumps and rubella are also highly contagious and can cause serious complications.
As a health care system, we have to take precautions to protect our patients, their families, our visitors and ourselves as team members. This is one of those instances in which your cooperation is required.
Team member health will be checking our employee health records to determine who is in need of immunizations. You may be asked to provide documentation of your immunizations. If you receive an e-mail requesting documentation or testing, please comply as soon as possible, remembering that it is of utmost importance to the care and safety of our patients and your fellow team members.
Most people received the MMR immunization as young children, so only a small percentage of our workforce will need to be immunized.
Here’s what we’ll be doing:
- If we already have documentation of MMR immunity in your record, you won’t have to do anything further. Those who are listed in our system as having immunity will not receive any further communication. Acceptable proof is in the form of documentation of two MMR vaccines or documented evidence of a positive MMR titer. (A titer is a lab test showing what antibodies are in the blood.)
- If we don’t have documentation (no previous titers and no proof of vaccination), then you’ll receive an email asking you to provide documentation. If you have documented proof of immunization, simply present it to team member health, and there is no further requirement. If you don’t have documentation in your records at home, you may be able to obtain it from your college or university. Most schools require MMR immunity as a prerequisite for admission.
- If you are unable to obtain documented proof of immunization or previous titers, you’ll need to receive immunization.
- If immunization is needed, it consists of two shots (MMRs) given at least 28 days apart. This vaccine will be provided to you at no cost; Mountain States will pay for you to be vaccinated. You can receive your vaccinations at team member health.
Team members will be screened to ensure that vaccinations are not given to anyone with contraindications, such as pregnancy, allergy or immunodeficiency.
Team members will be able to file for medical or religious exemptions to the policy. If exempted, those team members will not be allowed to work in high-risk areas. Anyone who wishes to request an exemption should contact team member health.
Remember, this is a one-time requirement and not something you’ll have to do every year, like flu vaccinations.
When it comes to the safety of our patients and caregivers, we absolutely must be diligent and responsible. It’s the right thing to do for our patients, so thank you very much for your understanding and cooperation. If you have questions about any of these requirements, please contact team member health.