ANGOLA — Cameron Memorial Community Hospital in Angola will begin implementing a COVID-19 vaccine mandate that was handed down by the federal government.

Hospital personnel who have not started receiving COVID-19 vaccines by Dec. 5 and have not completed the implementation by Jan. 4 will no longer be scheduled to work until they become vaccinated, said information released by Cameron.

“We recognize that the pandemic has been extremely challenging for our staff, and we greatly appreciate their unwavering commitment to our patients,” said Angie Logan, Cameron CEO. “As a Medicare and Medicaid-certified provider, Cameron is bound by these regulations and must follow the mandate if we are to continue to serve our community.”

On Nov. 5, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued an emergency regulation requiring all healthcare personnel who work in facilities that participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs receive the COVID-19 vaccination. Like all other organizations that treat Medicare and Medicaid patients, Cameron Memorial Community Hospital is subject to this mandate.

In compliance with the emergency regulation, Cameron has requested that all employees submit proof that they have received the first dose of a primary series or a single dose COVID-19 vaccine by Dec. 5. Proof of completion of the primary vaccination series must be completed no later than Jan. 4.

“If health care workers do not meet the deadlines set by CMS, they will be off the work schedule until they choose to become vaccinated or receive an approved exemption,” Cameron’s news release said.

All Cameron employees have been provided with resources and offered support to schedule a vaccination appointment or seek a religious or medical exemption. Cameron will also be hosting a question and answer session to address the CMS regulation.

Cameron Hospital has taken a lead role in the community in providing vaccines against COVID-19. Last November the hospital was established as a vaccine provider for people who worked in the health care and first responder fields. Cameron started providing vaccinations against COVID-19 on Dec. 18. Cameron also worked in concert with the Steuben County Health Department to operate what many observers said was one of the best COVID-19 clinics in northeast Indiana at the Steuben County Event Center at Crooked Lake.

“Cameron’s mission has always been to provide the highest quality of care,” said Deborah McHenry, board chair at Cameron. “Our employees embody that mission and their selfless dedication to patients is what sets Cameron apart. We are committed to providing our team members with support and resources to help them navigate through the CMS mandate.”

There is a separate mandate from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration that requires vaccination for employers with more than 100 employees. The OSHA mandate is separate from the CMS rule, which Cameron is also obligated to follow. OSHA has stopped implementation of that rule because the mandate has been halted by a federal court in Ohio. The matter is on appeal.

The OSHA mandate allowed weekly COVID-19 testing for those who did not get vaccinated.

Haley Jepson, Cameron spokeswoman, said she doesn’t know how many personnel if any at Cameron will not abide by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services emergency regulation.

“We do not wish to speculate numbers prior to the January deadline. We may be able to share more after the deadline passes, but respecting employee privacy remains a top priority,” Jepson said. “That is a real possibility. We just won’t know for sure until the time comes.”
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