20210804-LOC-Cheshire Med

Cheshire Medical Center

Cheshire Medical Center in Keene will soon require COVID-19 vaccination among its employees — a decision made by its parent system, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health.

Starting Sept. 30, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health employees — including those who work at Cheshire Medical — are required to get the COVID-19 vaccine, according to a news release from the Lebanon-based health system Tuesday. The system has about 13,000 employees, the release states.

The vaccine requirement includes those who are working remotely and per diem employees, the release says, because they still have to occasionally visit the health system’s facilities.

The release notes the recent surge in delta-related outbreaks nationwide, quoting Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky in saying the public health crisis is becoming a “pandemic of the unvaccinated.”

Employees will be required to submit documentation proving their vaccination status, the release says. Those who cannot get vaccinated due to a medical or religious exemption need to prove so.

The N.H. Hospital Association also issued a release Tuesday, saying hospital employees getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is “critical” to ensuring patient and staff safety.

“The COVID-19 vaccine prevents people from becoming seriously ill, requiring hospitalization, or dying from the virus,” Dr. Don Caruso, president and CEO of Cheshire Medical and the chair of the N.H. Hospital Association Board of Trustees, said in the release. “As public health leaders, our mission is to protect the lives and well-being of both our patients and our staff, and the COVID-19 vaccine is the most effective way we can do that.”

At Cheshire Medical, about 80 percent of employees are already fully vaccinated, according to spokesman Matthew Barone.

Other area hospitals have not yet instituted a vaccination requirement for all employees.

MCH will implement a plan of mandatory vaccination for employees, in support of the NHHA’s recommendations. The plan will include education and communication support for our clinicians, managers and employees.  

At Monadnock Community Hospital in Peterborough, spokesman Phil McFarland said the hospital will implement a vaccination requirement in the coming weeks.

The vaccination rate among Monadnock Community Hospital employees is more than 80 percent, McFarland said.

And across the river — where Vermont continues to lead the country in vaccination rates — Brattleboro Memorial Hospital began requiring new employees to get immunized July 9, according to spokeswoman Gina Pattison.

Ninety percent of the hospital’s employees are fully vaccinated, she added, and the hospital is evaluating a mandate for all of its workers.

This article has been corrected to reflect that Monadnock Community Hospital will implement a COVID-19 vaccine requirement for employees.

Olivia Belanger can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1439, or obelanger@keenesentinel.com. Follow her on Twitter @OBelangerKS.