On the heels of recent sweeping vaccine mandates across the state, Maui Health, operator of Maui’s only acute care hospital, along with two other major Valley Isle health providers are also mandating that their employees be vaccinated against COVID-19.
On Friday, Maui Health which operates Maui Memorial Medical Center, Lanai Community Hospital and Kula Hospital cited the surge in cases and providing a safe environment for its patients and employees on top of other mitigation measures as reasons to require the vaccination.
Kihei-Wailea Medical Center and Maui Medical Group are also mandating vaccines for all eligible employees and providers.
The Maui health care providers join a list of others across the state who have mandated vaccines. Hawaii Pacific Health, Adventist Health Castle, Queen’s Health Systems, Kaiser Permanente (including KP Outpatient facilities) and Hale Makua on Maui announced their mandates on Monday.
And on Thursday, Gov. David Ige announced requiring state and county workers to show proof of vaccination to their employers by Aug. 16. If they are not vaccinated by the deadline they will be subject to weekly COVID-19 testing.
The state Department of Education on Wednesday pushed back its high school sports season until Sept. 24, which will allow for all athletics participants to get vaccinated.
In a statement on Friday, Maui Health CEO Mike Rembis said that its decision to mandate vaccination for all of its employees “was a careful, thoughtful decision.”
He added “we care for some of the most vulnerable people in our community and must do everything we can to ensure the safest care environment, which includes a vaccinated workforce. Our patients deserve it, and our employees, providers and their families deserve a workplace that will also keep them protected from the virus.”
Clifford Alakai, administrator with Maui Medical Group said, “vaccination is the most effective, proven path to put this pandemic behind us and we must do whatever possible to further reduce risk for our patients, their families, our employees and providers.”
Dr. Kenneth B. Kepler, medical director at Kihei-Wailea Medical Center, said “Health care providers have an ethical responsibility to lead the way in preventing avoidable harm. We need to step up and do what is necessary for our patients and community by getting vaccinated.”
All health care entities will follow their company vaccine mandate policy, which will include exemptions for a medical condition or a “sincerely held religious belief” that prohibits someone from receiving the vaccine, according to a news release.
For Maui Health, spokeswoman Tracy Dallarda said on Friday that already 88.5 percent of its staff are vaccinated.
Maui Health employees will be required to provide proof of vaccination, if already received, or be fully vaccinated by Oct. 1. All unvaccinated employees will be tested regularly beginning later this month, Maui Health said Friday.
Three local banks also announced Friday that they will require employees to show proof of full vaccination or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing.
The requirement goes into effect on Sept. 30 for employees of Bank of Hawaii, First Hawaiian Bank and Territorial Savings Bank.
Under the new policy, the financial institutions will cover the COVID-19 test costs for non-vaccinated employees undergoing weekly testing.
Employees may submit requests for exemptions due to legitimate religious or medical reasons. Individuals granted exemptions will still be required to comply with regular COVID-19 testing and other preventative requirements, according to a news release.
* Melissa Tanji can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.