Trinity Health, the parent corporation of Mercy Health in West Michigan, will require employees to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
The Livonia-based Catholic health system said today that all employees who do not show proof of vaccination by Sept. 21 “will have their employment terminated,” unless they meet exemptions for religious or health reasons that they can request and document.
Managers must show proof of vaccinations by Aug. 24.
“One of our core values is safety, and we know that this vaccine is safe and we know it’s effective,” Trinity Health CEO Rob Casalou told MiBiz in an interview. “We’re a health care provider. Every day we have people who are vulnerable coming to our facilities, to our clinics, so we need to provide the safest environment. And the only way for us to ensure safety and protection from this virus is to make sure we who work in the facilities and for the health system are vaccinated.”
In today’s announcement, Trinity estimated that nearly three-quarters of employees have already received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and that it “now looks to close the gap with this new requirement.”
Driving Trinity to impose the mandate are low vaccination rates in some states and the spreading Delta coronavirus variant that is more aggressive and deadly.
“We also are concerned about new variants,” Casalou said. Most of the infections and deaths occurring today involve people who remain unvaccinated, he added.
Trinity Health owns 92 hospitals in 22 states that employ 117,000 people, including eight hospitals that employ more than 24,000 people in Michigan. Mercy Health Saint Mary’s in Grand Rapids and Mercy Health Muskegon together employ about 8,000 people.
The health system will offer vaccines to employees at work, Casalou said.
Trinity Health joins Detroit-based Henry Ford Health System in mandating employees get a COVID-19 vaccine.
Other systems waiting, keeping it optional
Among the large health systems in West Michigan, Metro Health-University of Michigan has not mandated vaccinations among staff “at this time,” nor has Bronson Healthcare in Kalamazoo, according to officials at both health systems.
As well, Spectrum Health — which employs more than 31,000 people in the region — has not mandated a COVID-19 vaccine.
“Spectrum Health strongly encourages our team members to become vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus. We provide information necessary for people to make an informed decision and offer the vaccine in numerous safe and convenient locations throughout the health system. At this time, it remains optional and is not mandatory for team members,” Spectrum said in a statement. “Nearly 70 percent of our on-site team members have been vaccinated. We continue to practice active infection control measures, including heightened cleaning protocols, masking in all clinical areas and a daily symptom survey for all on-site team members. Additionally, we continue to monitor positivity and vaccination rates in the community and among our team members.”
As of Wednesday, 62 percent of Michigan’s population 16 years and older has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to a state dashboard.