After particularly severe flu seasons in recent years, New Hanover Regional Medical Center (NHRMC) officials took the preventive step of making influenza vaccines mandatory for all employees and volunteers during the 2010-2011 flu season. This effort to vaccinate all employees resulted in nearly 7,000 fewer sick day hours used by employees between October 2010 and March 2011 when compared with the same period the previous year.
We have shown through our efforts to vaccinate all our employees that getting a flu vaccine really makes a huge impact on their quality of life, says Mary Ellen Bonczek, chief nursing executive at New Hanover Regional Medical Center. Those additional 7,000 hours that our employees did not have to use for sick days can now be applied to vacation or other personal time. I am very appreciative to our staff for supporting this initiative and taking seriously their role in keeping our community healthy.
In addition to mandatory vaccines for employees, New Hanover Regional Medical Center offered flu vaccinations to family members of employees at no cost. This extra step contributed to the number of sick hours saved, by reducing the number of sick days employees used to care for family members with the flu. Overall, the decrease in sick days saved the organization money by reducing the amount of overtime pay needed to cover shifts.
Our decision to make flu vaccines mandatory last year was well-received by our employees and we achieved 100 percent compliance, says Paul Kamitsuka, MD, hospital epidemiologist at NHRMC. In fact, we were recently presented with the Gold Award in the Flu Vaccination Challenge by Joint Commission Resources for our efforts. We are maintaining our policy of mandatory flu vaccines for this upcoming season and are on track to achieve 100 percent compliance again this year.