May 14, 2012

State Cites Harrington As Top Performer In Employee Flu Vaccination Rate

SOUTHBRIDGE, Mass., May 14, 2012 -- Harrington HealthCare System is one of the top performers in the state for vaccinating employees against influenza, according to the State Department of Public Health.

The healthcare system, which includes Harrington Hospital, Harrington HealthCare at Hubbard in Webster and Harrington HealthCare at Charlton, vaccinated 90.4 percent of its employees this flu season, according to state records. That puts it in the top 20 acute care hospitals in the state.

The healthcare system made vaccination of employees a top priority during this flu season, said Edward H. Moore, President and CEO of Harrington HealthCare System.

"Quality and patient safety are always high priorities at Harrington," Moore said. "By vaccinating employees, we helped ensure the health of our patients, our employees and the families of patients and employees. Hospital workers can be very prone to contracting this disease if they are not vaccinated, and they can become infectious days before they show any symptoms."

Harrington's campaign to vaccinate its employees was led by the healthcare system's Quality and Patient Safety Department, headed by Kathleen Davis; the Infection Prevention Department, headed by Sue Valentine, R.N.; and CompreCare, which provides occupational health services to clients and is headed by Arleen Smith, R.N. Among other initiatives, Harrington provided flu vaccinations to all departments via a traveling CompreCare nurse, put a "Flu Facts" screen saver on all computers, and CompreCare sent weekly updated status reports to all managers.

Harrington announced in December that, in the event of a flu outbreak, it was prepared to require all employees, physicians and volunteers who were not able to receive the flu vaccine to wear surgical masks if they were within six feet of patients or if they were in patient areas. Fortunately, the region avoided a major outbreak and it was not necessary to institute the policy.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health challenged all acute care hospitals in Massachusetts to improve their rate of vaccination for the 2011-2012 flu season. Harrington's vaccination rate improved almost 40 percent this year, to 90.4 percent, compared to 65.2 percent last year.