By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Banner Health, one of the largest U.S. health system employers which runs several medical facilites in Wyoming, is requiring its employees to be vaccinated against the coronavirus or lose their jobs, the company announced on Tuesday.
Banner Health operates multiple health care systems in Wyoming, including the Wyoming Medical Center in Casper and clinics in Torrington, Wheatland, Guernsey, Douglas, Worland and more.
Employees must be fully vaccinated by Nov. 1, with limited exceptions, the company said.
“We care for some of the most vulnerable people in our communities and we owe it to them to take every measure possible to ensure the safest care environment,” said Peter Fine, president and CEO for Banner Health, in a company-wide email on Tuesday. “We are taking this step to reduce risk for our patients, their families, visitors and each other. Safety is an absolute top priority and the COVID vaccine mandate reflects that commitment. The vaccine data has fully supported the safety and efficacy to prevent disease and reduce its severity. There is overwhelming evidence for us to act on behalf of the communities that rely on us to care for and protect them.
The company is implementing the requirement for several reasons, including the rise of the Delta variant of coronavirus, the need to protect its patients and workforce and to prepare for flu season.
National data has shown 97% of those hospitalized with COVID and 99% of COVID-related deaths are occurring among the unvaccinated.
In July, Banner launched an incentive program for employees who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, including a lottery that saw 10 vaccinated employees receive $10,000 each.
Banner has also provided its employees with pay for time away to get vaccinated, mileage reimbursement and points toward its wellness program that offers discounts on health insurance.
Banner Health employs roughly 52,000 people throughout the U.S., operating in six states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nebraska, Nevada and Wyoming.