Johnson Memorial Health Services recognized for efforts to protect patients from influenza

93 percent of facility’s health care workers received influenza vaccination in 2011-12

Johnson Memorial Health Services (JMHS) was among 146 hospitals and nursing homes from around the state recognized today by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) for achieving high influenza vaccination rates among health care workers during the 2011-12 flu season.

More than 90 % of the Care Center Staff and 95% of the Hospital staff received influenza vaccinations during the second season of the FluSafe program. The facility received a Blue ribbon and certificate of achievement from Minnesota Health Commissioner Edward Ehlinger for its efforts.

The FluSafe program aims to get 100 percent of all health care personnel at hospitals and nursing homes in Minnesota, except those with medical exemptions, vaccinated against influenza each season. According to state health officials, unvaccinated health care workers can pass highly contagious influenza to their patients, many of whom are at high risk for complications from influenza. National rates of influenza vaccination of health care workers are estimated at 63.5 percent. Minnesota’s rates are about 72 percent overall, as measured by MDH in 2009.

“Our patients’ health is our first priority. Protecting them from influenza just makes sense,” said Kathy Johnson, CEO/Administrator of Johnson Memorial Health Services “We also want all of our employees to be as healthy as possible during flu season. We will be working hard in the coming years to improve our influenza vaccination rate among employees even more.” JMHS will kick off its employee flu vaccination campaign for 2012-2013 in the fall.

A total of 199 facilities participated in FluSafe this year, with 146 facilities reaching vaccination rates of at least 70 percent. Of those, 44 reached vaccination levels of 90 percent or greater, 45 were in the 80-89 percent range and 57 reached 70-79 percent. There are 145 hospitals and about 375 nursing homes in the state.

“We’re extremely pleased with the number of facilities that participated in the program this year,” said Kristen Ehresmann, director of the Infectious Disease Epidemiology Prevention and Control Division at MDH. “We’re making progress in getting more health care workers vaccinated. Even among those facilities that didn’t reach 70 percent, many showed significant improvement in their coverage rates.”

Under the FluSafe program, health care facilities receive guidance and access to tools and promotional materials from MDH and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help them increase their rates. The facilities record and document their vaccination rates through MDH’s electronic immunization information system, called MIIC. More information on the FluSafe program can be found on the MDH web site at mdhflu.com.