GREAT NECK, NY – The North Shore-LIJ Health System today announced the launch of a system-wide flu prevention program, called “Set the Example,” is aimed at protecting patients, visitors and employees from seasonal influenza. The program, in front of New York State’s mandate for healthcare workers to get vaccinated which was repealed in 2009, requires the organization’s more than 44,000 employees, 7,000 community-based physicians, vendors, volunteers and students to participate in flu prevention by getting vaccinated or signing a declination form, by December 1, 2012. To further safeguard against the spread of the flu virus, unvaccinated staff who decline the vaccine and who work in high-risk areas with newborns or infants, such as the neonatal care units and newborn nurseries, will be required to a wear mask during peak flu season.
“As the largest healthcare system in New York, our top priority is the health and safety of our patients,” said Michael Dowling, president and CEO of North Shore-LIJ. “It’s our duty as leaders and champions of wellness to set the example and do everything in our power to prevent the spread of infection in our hospitals and communities.”
As part of the program, the health system is offering convenient access to flu vaccinations to all employees, physicians and volunteers, free of charge. Further, staff members who are enrolled in a North Shore-LIJ medical plan will receive a $260 incentive by accepting a “wellness pledge” to get the flu vaccine and practice proper hand hygiene.
“We’re proud to promote flu prevention measures that go above and beyond the requirements for healthcare workers in New York State,” said Mr. Dowling. “As a patient-centered healthcare organization dedicated to keeping our communities healthy, it’s only natural that we set the highest standards of patient safety when it comes to flu prevention.”
Influenza is largely preventable through simple measures such as vaccination and proper hand washing. Flu and related complications result in approximately 226,000 hospitalizations and more than 36,000 deaths in the United States each year. Combined with pneumonia, flu is the nation’s eighth leading cause of death.