DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — In the wake of WellSpan, just another health system, requiring employees to get vaccinated, UPMC is explaining why they aren’t.

Dr. John D. Goldman, an infectious diseases specialist at UPMC Central Pa., said they had as many as 300 COVID patients in their seven-hospital system and essentially saw no transmission in the hospital by having people wear simple surgical masks.

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“Masks prevent transmission of the virus and the vaccine is effective in preventing transmission but is most effective in preventing severe disease and hospitalization,” Goldman said.

While the health system encourages vaccinations, Dr. Goldman says that they aren’t risking even losing a small amount health care workers with a mandate.

WellSpan Statement

WellSpan Health is complying with the recent mandate from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which requires COVID-19 vaccination of all staff within Medicare and Medicaid-certified facilities, including hospitals. Implementation of our mandated employee vaccination program involves a timeline in which all team members are required to receive their first dose by Dec. 1, with second doses received by Jan. 5, 2022. Exceptions will be granted for religious and medical reasons. WellSpan continues to believe that vaccination is the single best way to reduce the spread COVID-19. At WellSpan hospitals, we continue to see that 99% of our current COVID-19 patients who require breathing support, 95% who need ICU-level care and 90% who require hospitalization for COVID-19 are unvaccinated.

Lancaster General Health Statement:

By September 1st, the deadline for our mandate, nearly 100% of our health system workforce had complied with our COVID-19 Immunization Policy, either through vaccination or an approved exemption. Compliance was consistent across our health system; all of our hospitals saw at least 99% compliance. About 2 percent of our health system employees received a religious or medical exemption, half of which were temporary medical exemptions. These individuals are required to complete mandatory, twice-weekly COVID-19 testing. We are proud to have come together as a group to protect one another and those we care for, and to have set an example for our friends, families, and neighbors that vaccination is a key path out of the pandemic. A small percentage of employees chose to resign or were terminated from their positions for their decision not to comply with the policy.

Penn State Health Statement:

With regard to vaccination, we are still working through the implications associated with President Biden’s plan. We expect further guidance on the requirements for health care workers to be issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and will respond accordingly. In the meantime, we are continuing to encourage vaccination among our employees and students and are providing them with access to vaccines.

As for precautions, Penn State Health continues to screen all family/support persons who wish to enter any of our facilities, and no one with COVID symptoms will be permitted to enter. Due to the various states of health or illness of people served in health care facilities, everyone entering the facilities is required to wear a mask at all times and maintain social distancing guidelines, regardless of vaccination status.