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Published on October 03, 2011

PA Department of Health to Honor Abington Health for Universal Influenza Vaccination Program

ABINGTON, PA (October 3, 2011) — Abington Health was recently recognized by the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) for achieving a vaccination rate of 98.9 percent during last year’s flu season, during the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania’s (HAP) annual Patient Safety Symposium. Representatives from both the DOH and HAP will be on hand Wednesday, October 12, 2011 to honor Abington Health at a ceremony at Abington Memorial Hospital.

“The influenza season of 2010-2011 represented an important touchstone for us as a healthcare system and medical staff,” said John J. Kelly, M.D., chief of staff and chief patient safety officer, Abington Memorial Hospital.

“We committed ourselves to an annual universal influenza vaccination as a safeguard for our patients, ourselves and our loved ones at home, by effectively creating a culture of ‘Herd Immunity’ – the concept of protecting a community against certain diseases by having a high percentage of the community’s population immunized,” continued Kelly. “By immunizing our employees and physicians, patients and visitors benefit, as the spread of influenza is severely limited. This goes a long way to keeping our employees, physicians and their families healthy, as well.”

Pennsylvania hospitals and health systems have demonstrated consistent leadership in patient safety initiatives, including the prevention of health care-associated infections. Abington Health, one of seven PA health care organizations recognized for taking the lead on the mandatory influenza vaccination policy, has helped make significant progress in turning the policy into a state-wide pledge. HAP and the DOH have adopted the same sentiment and officially launched the health care personnel universal influenza vaccination campaign at HAP’s Patient Safety Symposium.

During the past few months, HAP has participated in a task force that includes representatives from DOH, the Patient Safety Authority (PSA), the Pennsylvania Immunization Coalition, and the Center for Vaccine Ethics and Policy at the University of Pennsylvania. DOH hosted state-wide regional training programs during July about employee vaccination and patient safety to address policy and ethical issues, best practices, and how to overcome barriers to universal vaccination. Several HAP members that have achieved near universal employee vaccination, including Abington Health, served as faculty for the regional meetings and HAP’s Patient Safety Symposium, and agreed to be the subject of case studies in a guidebook.

“Our organization of nearly 7,000 employees, medical staff members and volunteers set the bar high and hurdled it. The ‘Flu Team’ did a phenomenal job of educating and communicating, and the campaign was an extraordinary success,” said Kelly.

Abington Health will celebrate the recognition on October 12, 2011 at 10:30 a.m. with a small reception in the Abington Memorial Hospital board room.

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