9 ASC leaders on vaccine mandates

Washington, California, Oregon and New York have announced vaccine mandates for state employees or healthcare workers as COVID-19 surges nationwide. 

Here are ASC leaders' thoughts on vaccine mandates, either at the state level or within their facility:

Brian Gantwerker, MD. Craniospinal Center of Los Angeles: I think we are right in pushing vaccinations for healthcare workers, because we are stewards of public health. There's always reasons to not get it — maybe someone has a genuine medical exemption. But the fact is, the more times the virus reproduces, the more chances there'll be a mutation, and the more chances these mutations will render the vaccines less effective.

Robin Yeager, RN. Director of operations and COO of the Advanced Ambulatory Surgery Center (Altamonte Springs, Fla.): The movement toward vaccinating healthcare employees is not a new concept since flu shot mandates have been in practice for many years. I believe it is important to prioritize cultural and religious diversity when these political directives are being considered. 

Christina Holloway. Administrator of ASC Bala Cynwyd (Pa.): Our centers have not yet instituted an employment requirement for COVID-19 vaccination but are paying close attention to the country's majority response as many of the large health systems trend in that direction. As clinicians, we want to offer the safest environment of care possible for those needing and choosing to integrate medical interventions on every level. The community should feel less stressed when actively pursuing any level of health management and requiring vaccines for those in practice is a realistic way to accomplish that goal. 

Robert Szabo, MD. Professor of orthopaedics and surgery at UC Davis Health (Sacramento, Calif.): I fully support this mandate. I think those in healthcare who do not vaccinate are irresponsible. We should be held to the highest standard of protecting each other and our patients.

Trudy Wiig, RN. Administrator of Kerlan-Jobe Surgery Center (Los Angeles): The strength of the state’s requirements, barring medical exemption or religious accommodation, bolster our current policies. We will have 99 percent of our staff and physicians fully vaccinated a few weeks before the state’s Sept.30 deadline.

Robert Mayle, MD. Orthopedic surgeon based in San Francisco and affiliated with Sutter Health (Sacramento, Calif.): We failed to sufficiently vaccinate the population, and now we are seeing the downside of that: the emergence of COVID-19 variants. If we are to achieve immunity and finally put this pandemic behind us, then we must vaccinate all.

Richard Rosenfield, MD. Executive medical director and chief of gynecology at Pearl Women's Center and Pearl Surgicenter (Portland, Ore.): Unfortunately, it seems like people need to make their own decisions about vaccines, and the misinformation out there is pretty ridiculous. We support any opportunity to reduce COVID-19 infection rates.

Gabriel Figueroa. Administrator of Manhattan Reproductive Surgery Center (New York City): Although we strongly encouraged everyone to consider the vaccine, we did not feel that ethically we could mandate a unilateral decision like that. We did, however, prepare for what requirements would be in place for individuals who chose not to receive the vaccine. We have chosen to continue to test all patients that come into the facility regardless of vaccination status.

Jonathan Kaplan, MD. Owner of Pacific Heights Plastic Surgery (San Francisco): This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated. That's the only reason it's been able to break through in the few cases for the vaccinated patients. Far and away, most people in the hospital are unvaccinated COVID-19 cases, so we are going to do our small part [to stop the spread]. If you're coming in for a procedure, cosmetic or reconstructive, you have to be vaccinated. It keeps our employees safe and their families safe, and I think it's also safe for all the patients coming in to minimize the chances that we have a delta variant in our office.

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