Related story: Owasso doctors encourage locals to get vaccinated with change in seasonsTwo local hospitals were recently recognized for their ongoing efforts in promoting a healthy community.

Bailey Medical Center and St. John Owasso were among 47 Oklahoma hospitals to meet a challenge from the Oklahoma Hospital Association to achieve a health care worker influenza vaccination rate of 96% or higher during the 2018-2019 flu season.

Since the 2012-2013 influenza season, the OHA Council on Quality and Patient Safety has issued an employee influenza vaccination challenge to community hospitals.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, influenza has resulted in between 9.2 million and 35.6 million illnesses, between 140,000 and 710,000 hospitalizations and between 12,000 and 56,000 deaths annually since 2010.

Hospitalized patients are particularly vulnerable to the dangers of influenza because their immune systems are often compromised by the illness or by the treatments they undergo, OHA states. Likewise, vaccination of health care personnel has been shown to prevent illness and death in patients and reduce influenza and absenteeism among staff.

Several key national professional organizations have endorsed mandatory policies for influenza vaccination as a condition of employment within health care facilities, including the American Hospital Association. In 2011, the OHA board of trustees developed a position statement urging mandatory influenza policies.

Bailey Medical Center also received an ‘A’ for patient safety in Leapfrog’s 2019 Hospital Safety Grade and ranked among the nation’s Best Places to Work in Healthcare by Modern Healthcare magazine earlier this year.

Additionally, St. John Owasso was named one of the nation’s top hospitals by IBM Watson Health earlier this year and earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for Hospital Accreditation in 2017.