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Ochsner Health employees facing month long suspension due to refusing COVID-19 vaccine


LOUISIANA, (BRPROUD) – Ochsner Health held a COVID-19 briefing on Thursday.

These members of Ochsner Health spoke during the almost 26 minute news conference:

  • Warner L. Thomas – President and Chief Executive Officer, Ochsner Health
  • Dr. Stuart Robert Hart – Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer,
  • Michael Hulefeld – Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Ochsner Health

President Warner L. Thomas led off by talking about the progress that has been made within the Ochsner System since Hurricane Ida.

President Thomas emphasized the recovery efforts, prioritizing the rebooking of patients and support for employees.

Some good news came out of this briefing, in one week, the Ochsner System has seen a decrease in COVID-19 patients.

In one week, the numbers have fallen from 486 to 386.

This is down from a total of 1,009 only one month ago.

Dr. Hart was asked why there has been a decline in COVID hospitalizations and the Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer pointed to the mask mandate and people reacting differently to the fourth surge.

There has been an increased in COVID vaccinations across the system.

With regards to employees, 110 of them are now quarantined out of 32,000.

1,300 employees are currently staying in hotel rooms.

Hurricane Ida has provided more obstacles for the hospital system.

At this juncture, the Ochsner facilities in Houma and Leplace remain on generator power.

Michael Hulefeld took the floor and mentioned that since Ida, around 40,000 patients have had their appointments rescheduled which is about half of what needs to be done.

When asked whether employees or health care workers at Ochsner are required to get the COVID vaccine, President Thomas said yes.

If an employee or health care worker does not get the vaccine, then they will be suspended for 30 days.

If they claim a medical or religious exemption, they would be asked to leave Ochsner.

At this time about 81% of Ochsner employees are vaccinated and around 150 to 200 have requested and exemption.

This news conference comes on a day when the state saw an increase in COVID hospitalizations.

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