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Trinity Health Mandates COVID-19 Vaccinations for Employees, Contractors

July 9, 2021
The Detroit News
July 8, 2021

A second major health system based in Michigan will require its workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Trinity Health, based in Livonia, announced Thursday that its employees, contractors, and others conducting business in its hospitals must be vaccinated by Sept. 21.

Last month Henry Ford Health System said its workers, contractors, volunteers, and students must be vaccinated by Sept. 10. The five-hospital Detroit-based Henry Ford said the requirement affected about 33,000 team members.

Trinity Health officials said the vaccines help employees keep their colleagues and patients safe from the coronavirus.

“As a faith-based health care system, we have pledged to protect the most vulnerable,” said Rob Casalou, chief executive officer of Trinity Health Michigan.

He said he realized some employees will disagree with the decision but, after getting worker feedback and studying the issue, he believed the requirement was the right decision.

Dr. Rosalie Tocco-Bradley, chief clinical officer of Trinity Health Michigan, said the vaccines and their effectiveness are widely supported by the medical community.

“The science is clear,” she said. “Vaccines protect against infection and they help save lives.”

Trinity Health has 24,000 employees in Michigan and 117,000 in 22 states.

Its Michigan facilities include five St. Joseph Mercy Health System hospitals, three Mercy Health hospitals, and two medical groups, IHA and Mercy Health Physician Partners.

About 75% of Trinity Health workers have already received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, said the officials.

The health system will employ rolling deadlines for different types of employees, setting dates by which they must submit proof of vaccinations.

Exemptions will be available for religious or health reasons and must be formally requested, documented and approved, according to Trinity Health.

Workers who fail to show proof of vaccination will be terminated, officials said.

Other Metro Detroit systems have not followed the lead of Henry Ford Health and Trinity Health, including the University of Michigan’s health system and Beaumont Health, a Southfield-based eight-hospital system that is negotiating a possible merger with West Michigan’s Spectrum Health.

The Michigan Nurses Association, a group of unionized nurses, has previously argued that while it supports vaccination, it opposes having hospitals set unilateral policies.

“MNA nurses believe that these questions are best decided democratically by health care workers themselves and need to be subject to collective bargaining,” according to a statement in late June by the Michigan Nurses Association. The association’s registered nurses “strongly encourage everyone to choose to get vaccinated to protect their families and themselves.”

Michigan on Tuesday added 438 cases and 21 deaths from COVID-19 over a four-day period including the holiday weekend. The state’s next update is Friday.

Tuesday’s figures bring Michigan’s total number of cases to 895,395 and deaths to 19,775 since the virus was first detected in March 2020, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services.

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