WACO, Texas – Waco Family Medicine (WFM) informed employees Friday of a policy requiring all current employees, contract/volunteer clinical providers, students, and volunteers to provide written proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 (or receive an approved exemption consistent with the specifications of federal law) by September 30.
This policy applies to all current and future employees. It does not apply to WFM patients and family members, community members, vendors/business partners present in WFM facilities for meetings, and those in WFM facilities providing professional services (deliveries, facilities maintenance, etc.).
During the weeks leading up to this announcement, administrators and clinicians hosted an employee town hall meeting for unvaccinated employees to share their thoughts and ask questions – as well as meeting individually with employees to address specific personal concerns and provide more privacy.
WFM CEO Dr. Jackson Griggs communicated this policy in a personal letter accompanied by a written version of the policy, a list of Frequently Asked Questions and responses, and an exemption request packet that included instructions, details of the submission/review process, and the exemption request form.
Dr. Griggs described and detailed the thoughtful, deliberate process the clinical and administrative leadership has followed in making this decision. He addressed the organization’s priorities of patient safety, employee health, and community pandemic response – while also recognizing concern for personal autonomy, the potential loss of valued staff, and the impact on morale and culture – all in the context of a global pandemic that has killed over four million people, 620,000 Americans, and more than 500 McLennan County residents, including those who have been our patients, staff, friends, and family.
WFM’s “COVID-19 Vaccine Requirement Policy” provides this as the purpose of the policy:
“Waco Family Medicine (WFM) is committed to maintaining a safe healthcare environment for our patients, staff, visitors, and community. To achieve that goal, this policy requires all WFM employees, clinical providers, students, and volunteers to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Various employee health requirements have long been a critical part of employment at WFM, and COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective at reducing the risk of becoming infected, developing serious complications, and spreading COVID-19 to others. This policy will comply with all applicable laws and is based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local health authorities, as applicable.”
Here are some excerpts from the letter Dr. Griggs wrote to all employees:
“We have a moral obligation to do everything in our power to stop this disease from taking more lives and leading to more suffering. The COVID-19 vaccine is the most effective way to halt the destruction caused by this virus.
For this reason, health systems and centers of all sizes are requiring staff COVID-19 vaccinations. Over 170 major American health care systems now require staff vaccinations; many of those systems (like Ascension and Baylor Scott & White) have hundreds of individual healthcare facilities and thousands of employees. And numerous community health centers like ours are doing the same.
There have been almost five billion COVID-19 vaccine doses administered around the world, and over 350 million doses given in the United States. The science is clear that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. Health organizations and professional societies representing millions of health professionals—virtually the entire healthcare industry in America—agrees on the critical importance of COVID-19 vaccination.”
“This challenging decision was made with great deliberation and with the utmost concern for our patients, employees, and community. As you consider you own response to this requirement, please trust that Waco Family Medicine’s response is rooted in a deep respect and care for every member of the Waco Family Medicine family, our neighbors, and our entire community.”
Source: Waco Family Medicine