RCH CEO reacts to state vaccine mandate for employees

Olson: Hospital didn’t want state mandate, but wasn’t surprised


ROCHELLE — Rochelle Community Hospital CEO Gregg Olson said Thursday that while the hospital didn’t want Gov. JB Pritzker to mandate the COVID-19 for healthcare workers, it was not surprising. 

At a news conference Thursday Pritzker required that all healthcare workers in a variety of settings, such as hospitals, nursing homes, urgent care facilities and physician's offices, must be vaccinated against COVID-19. Effective Sept. 5, those who are unable or unwilling to receive their first dose of vaccine will be required to get tested for COVID-19 at least once a week, and the Illinois Department of Public Health may require more frequent testing in certain situations, like in an outbreak.  

“We are taking a close look at the governor’s mandate in order to make sure we fully understand to whom this applies,” Olson said in an email. “In the Governor’s press conference he suggested weekly testing or more for unvaccinated employees. We are considering all of our options at this time.”

As of Thursday, Olson said he had not seen a reaction to the mandate from employees as of yet. 

Earlier this summer, Olson told The News-Leader that his staff is 83-85 percent vaccinated. He said Thursday the hospital is currently investigating through it’s employee health leader to ensure it has the most accurate date to see if that’s changed after having employees leave to pursue other opportunities and new hires that may not be vaccinated yet. 

Olson previously has said that the hospital was considering a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for staff but had concerns about staffing levels and its ability to hire prospective employees if it were to mandate the vaccine. That decision has been taken out of its hands. 

When asked Friday about how the vaccine mandate could impact potential hiring numbers and employment, Olson believes RCH can persevere.

 “As with any healthcare entity, we anticipate that we can work through this process with little or no impact on our staffing,” Olson said.