New federal COVID-19 vaccine mandates and impact on U.S. healthcare workers
On Sept. 9, 2021, President Joe Biden issued several mandates and executive orders that directly impact business and health systems throughout the country, including Cleveland Clinic.
The focus of his announcement was on vaccines, testing and federal staffing support. Here is a recap from the White House briefing:
- Hospitals, totaling approximately 17 million healthcare workers, must mandate COVID-19 vaccines. Emergency regulations already in place requiring vaccinations for nursing home workers will be expanded to include hospitals, dialysis facilities, ambulatory surgical settings and home health agencies, among others, as a condition for participating in the Medicare and Medicaid programs.
- The Department of Labor is developing an Emergency Rule for employers with more than 100 employees to ensure employees are vaccinated or show a negative COVID-19 test once a week.
- Through an Executive Order, all federal workers and contractors must be vaccinated (no option for weekly testing).
- The importance of testing was a focus and it was announced that at-home rapid COVID-19 test kits will be available at cost for three months at retail pharmacies.
- More federal surge response teams from various agencies and military will be deployed to help staff in states with healthcare needs.
There are many details we need to learn, including the timing and implementation of these mandates. As we await more information from the federal government, we do plan to comply with the federal requirements. We have a team of caregivers who will be working to address this for our organization.
Additional details will be shared over the coming weeks.
Updated at 4:14 p.m. on Sept. 10, 2021
General response to caregiver questions
We understand this is a sensitive and personal topic with varying opinions. Please remember that the intranet is a business tool and is governed by our policies and procedures. When interacting on the intranet, it is important to share your thoughts and opinions with empathy and respect. Caregivers should use good judgment and discretion in posting comments.
To address some of the commentary you have shared:
- President Biden’s Sept. 9, 2021 announcement was a general one and we, like other healthcare organizations, are awaiting additional details and guidance from the federal government, OSHA and CMS. As that information becomes available, we will share it with you over the coming weeks. While we will need to comply with any federal requirement, it’s too early to speculate on what this will mean and how this will be implemented.
- As an organization, we stand behind the science of the COVID-19 vaccine and strongly encourage each of you to get vaccinated to help protect yourselves, your loved ones, co-workers and your communities. Vaccination is an important step in controlling the COVID-19 pandemic. The authorized vaccines have gone through rigorous clinical trials and have been determined to be safe and effective at preventing severe disease and death from COVID-19, including the Delta variant. Here’s where you can get the COVID-19 vaccine.
- Some of you have asked about immunity—this is a topic that is being further explored. No definitive information is available yet and additional studies are in process currently. Here is Cleveland Clinic’s statement on previous COVID-19 infection research.
- For more information and the latest facts about the COVID-19 vaccines, including their safety and effectiveness, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/vaccine-benefits.html.
We will continue to provide you with facts, share the latest information we receive from the federal government relating to these new requirements and address your questions.
Ohio locations change visitation guidelines Sept. 14
The current surge of COVID-19 cases in communities surrounding our Ohio facilities has caused us to reevaluate the guidelines we have in place to protect our patients and caregivers. After monitoring key metrics and the spread of the Delta variant, we have made the difficult decision to reduce visitation in some areas.
Starting Tuesday, Sept. 14, Cleveland Clinic locations in Ohio will implement modified red level visitation guidelines at all facilities.
For patients who are either COVID-19 positive or negative, the changes include:
- Inpatients will be allowed one designated visitor through their entire hospital stay.
- Outpatients will be allowed one visitor per appointment or procedure.
- Patients in the Emergency Department will be allowed one designated visitor through their entire hospital stay.
Note these additional changes:
- During prenatal appointments:
- Patients who are COVID-19 positive will be allowed one visitor.
- Patients who are COVID-19 negative will be allowed two visitors for fetal ultrasounds and one visitor for regular prenatal appointments.
- In Labor and Delivery:
- Patients who are COVID-19 positive will be allowed one visitor during labor.
- Patients who are COVID-19 negative will be allowed two visitors.
- In pediatrics:
- Patients who are COVID-19 positive will be allowed one parent or guardian.
- Patients who are COVID-19 negative will be allowed two parents or guardians.
Caregivers should continue using compassionate exceptions as appropriate. View more details.
- All visitors must be age 18 or older.
- A designated visitor is one person a patient chooses to visit them each day during their hospital stay. This person cannot change from day to day.
- Visitors must keep their mask on while inside a patient’s room, whether or not the visitor is vaccinated and whether or not the patient is COVID-19 positive.
- If visitors do not follow Cleveland Clinic masking guidelines, caregivers can ask them to leave the facility and restrict their visitation privileges. For support, contact Ombudsman at 216.444.2544 or [email protected]
Florida visitation guidelines stay the same
Florida will continue to follow the red level visitation guidelines in place at their facilities at this time. Please note this means Ohio and Florida locations are following two different red level visitation guidelines for now, understanding this is a dynamic situation and subject to change. We appreciate the feedback you have provided to help determine how best to keep our patients, caregivers and visitors safe.