QUINCY — All employees at the Blessing Hospital campuses in Illinois were asked to demonstrate proof of vaccination or proof of a negative test starting Monday.
The hospital is complying with an executive order from Gov. J.B. Pritzker that was issued Aug. 26 that details vaccination requirements for healthcare workers. Employees at Blessing Health Centers at 927 Broadway and 4800 Maine and in the rural health clinics in Golden, Hancock County and Illini Community Hospital in Pittsfield are affected.
All healthcare workers must have received the first dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine series or a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine within 10 days after executive order was issued. They must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 within 30 days following administration of their first dose in a two-dose vaccination series. Healthcare workers not fully vaccinated must be tested for COVID-19 weekly at a minimum.
The executive order only affects Blessing Health System employees who work on a Blessing clinical campus in Illinois. They also must be present on that campus for more than 15 minutes at a time. The testing program does not affect Blessing employees who work in northeast Missouri or southeast Iowa if they never visit a Blessing clinical campus in Illinois.
Vendors have been required to be vaccinated when on a Blessing campus since vaccines became available.
People planning to visit a hospitalized COVID-19 patient must have their COVID vaccination card with them. They can not visit without that card. That policy has been in effect since early June of this year at Blessing Hospital, Illini Community Hospital in Pittsfield and Blessing Health Keokuk.
COVID positive patients may have one visitor per day between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., but that visitor does not have to be fully vaccinated and does not need to show a vaccination card. Steve Felde, external and internal communication coordinator, said the policy recently was changed. It is noted in a brochure given to each visitor. Visitors to COVID positive patients must wear the personal protective equipment they will be given by the hospital when entering the patient’s room, and they must remain in the room for the entire visit.
Non-COVID patients at Blessing Hospital are allowed two visitors daily between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Non-COVID patients at Illini Community Hospital in Pittsfield are allowed one visitor daily between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.
An email request was made Monday for Quincy Medical Group’s policy on vaccination requirements for employees. Erica Douglas, a communications specialist for QMG, replied with the following statement: “Vaccines are the best way to protect one another and to bring an end to the pandemic. QMG will continue to take all required measures to protect patients and our team.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: A previous version of this story had incorrect information about the hospital’s policy for visiting COVID positive patients. A previous version also did not list all of the Blessing facilities in Illinois at which the executive order is being enforced.