New York City public hospitals, nursing homes and community health centers have made flu immunizations for employees a top priority of its infection control and patient safety campaign. By the end of January 2008, nearly 20,000 HHC employees had received the vaccines and hundreds more are expected to get it by the end of this year's flu season, which runs from October 2007 through April 2008.
"Our rate is already well above the national rate of 42% and the city average of 33% for healthcare employee vaccinations. But there is still more we can do. We know that that flu vaccination is as important as handwashing in protecting our patients, and we look forward to seeing further progress as the flu season continues into the early part of 2008," said HHC President Alan D. Aviles.
HHC’s successful employee flu shot campaign featured mobile immunization carts that visited every area of every hospital during every shift to offer shots. It also included promotional posters, email messages from hospital leadership and other incentives.
Health professionals are in close contact with patients who are among the most vulnerable to influenza infection and its serious complications, such as pneumonia.
Some HHC facilities have already exceeded this year's employee immunization rate target of 60% for hospitals and diagnostic and treatment centers and 70% for long term care facilities. Morrisania Diagnostic and Treatment Center is among those, and last year achieved the highest rate among HHC facilities -- an astonishing 92% of their employees vaccinated -- approximately 15% over the previous year.
"I know that getting a flu vaccine is the best way to protect not only hospital workers but our patients and their families from becoming ill or spreading the flu," says Gigi Navarro RN, Administrator of Nursing, who led the campaign at Morrisania. "I went to clinics, the lunchroom and even meeting rooms often with the vaccine and paperwork in hand. I didn't wait for employees to contact me."
Navarro was honored by HHC with the Nursing Excellence Award for her role in producing the high immunization rate. She also received a Corporate Recognition Award and a Certificate of Appreciation from the Generations Plus Network and the Morrisania Diagnostic and Treatment Center.
At the beginning of February, more than 139,000 patients, employees and volunteers had received flu shots since HHC began offering them in October. The flu season lasts until May, and the shots will be available to patients and employees until April 30, 2008.