Maui Healthcare Providers Join in Announcing COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate
Kīhei-Wailea Medical Center and Maui Medical Group have joined Maui Health, which includes Maui Memorial Medical Center, Kula Hospital and Lānaʻi Community Hospital, in mandating the COVID-19 vaccine for all eligible employees and providers.
The announcement was made this afternoon amid a surge in COVID-19 positive cases across the state and the US.
The positivity rate for Maui County is at 5.6%, and positive cases are up 230% from two weeks ago. The state positivity rate is at 6.9% and increasing, with the highest single day of positive cases, 655, recorded yesterday, and the second highest count of 628 recorded today.
Maui Memorial Medical Center has experienced an increase in COVID-19 positive admissions and its Emergency Operations Center team continues to monitor hospital operations and census, which is functioning at normal capacity with hospital beds and intensive care beds available, a spokesperson said.
“As we continue to monitor this current surge, we continue to focus on our responsibility to provide a safe environment for our patients to receive care, and a workplace for our employees that actively avoids preventable harm,” said Maui Health spokesperson Tracy Dallarda. “While Maui Health has instituted many safety precautions, including restrictive visitation, universal N95 mask use, and regular COVID-19 testing for employees and patients, the most effective prevention strategy is a fully vaccinated workforce. With this, Maui Health is requiring that all employees be fully vaccinated by Oct, 1, 2021.”
“It is apparent that unprecedented community spread is occurring with much of the worry surrounding the Delta variant,” according to the joint announcement. “Health care providers throughout Maui recognize the best protection against the virus is the vaccine and are stepping up to ensure all their employees and providers are vaccinated.”
“Our decision to mandate vaccination for all Maui Health employees was a careful, thoughtful decision,” said Mike Rembis, Maui Health CEO, “we care for some of the most vulnerable people in our community and must do everything we can to ensure the safest care environment, which includes a vaccinated workforce. Our patients deserve it, and our employees, providers and their families deserve a workplace that will also keep them protected from the virus.”
According to today’s announcement, healthcare representatives said, “As health care leaders representing the majority of health care providers on Maui, all are confident the vaccine mandate will make a difference in curbing the spread of COVID-19 and creating a safer environment for residents who access health care on Maui.”
“Health care providers have an ethical responsibility to lead the way in preventing avoidable harm,” said Dr. Kenneth B. Kepler, Medical Director at Kīhei-Wailea Medical Center. “We need to step up and do what is necessary for our patients and community by getting vaccinated.”
Clifford Alakai, Administrator with Maui Medical Group, agreed, “vaccination is the most effective, proven path to put this pandemic behind us and we must do whatever possible to further reduce risk for our patients, their families, our employees and providers.”
All health care entities will follow their company vaccine mandate policy, which will include exemptions for a medical condition or a sincerely held religious belief that prohibits someone from receiving the vaccine.
These Maui healthcare providers join a growing list of hospitals and health care systems throughout the country who have implemented employee vaccine mandates, including hospitals in Hawaiʻi. As announced earlier this week, Hawaiʻi Pacific Health, Adventist Health Castle, Queen’s Health Systems, Kaiser Permanente (including KP Outpatient facilities), and Hale Makua have implemented a vaccine mandate.
“We are grateful to the majority of our employees who have already chosen to be vaccinated. Their commitment and dedication are commendable in keeping everyone safe. We know vaccination is a personal decision and we will continue to provide education, resources, and answer questions to ensure everyone has the most scientifically reliable information available to make their decision,” said Rembis.
The health care providers are encouraging all eligible community residents who have not yet been vaccinated to reconsider. “Join us in being part of the solution to ending this pandemic,” the announcement said.
The Maui Health – Main Lobby Vaccine Clinic is open Mondays/Fridays from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Walk-ins are welcome. More information on how to receive a vaccine is available at: www.mauihealth.org/covidvaccine.