Entries in Employees (5)


NC Hospitals Warn Employees to Get a Flu Shot or Get Fired

Jeffrey Hamilton/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- With officials at the Centers for Disease Control saying it’s gearing up to be a bad flu season, several North Carolina hospitals are taking no chances and requiring that all employees either get a flu shot or be fired.

This past summer, officials at First Health Moore Regional Hospital adopted a policy that requires all staff who routinely work in patient care areas to be vaccinated annually for influenza.

Officials at the care facilities say the forward-thinking policy was put in place because the common flu may have not-so-common effects on people facing more serious illnesses and whose immune systems are not strong enough to combat the virus.

First Health is just one of several North Carolina medical facilities taking the aggressive preventative approach.

“It’s definitely a national trend,” says Dr. B. Anthony Lindsey, chief medical officer for University of North Carolina Hospitals, where the policy is also in its pilot year.  “Influenza is an extremely contagious disease.  For some of our patients, it could have very serious consequences — including death.”

Most hospitals already require tuberculosis tests and hepatitis shots, but while the flu may be more common than those illnesses, its impact could be just as serious.

“Hospitals require personnel to get tested for tuberculosis so that they don’t spread that disease. The flu shot requirement is no different,” says ABC News’ chief health and medical editor, Dr. Richard Besser.

Cone Health Systems, a conglomerate of five North Carolina hospitals, was one of the first hospital groups to put the policy in place three years ago during the H1N1, or “bird flu,” outbreak.  Since that time, two people who work closely with patients have been fired for not taking the vaccine — showing hospitals are not taking chances on patients’ health.

“Our values at this hospital is that we care for our patients, we care for others and we care for our community,” says Dr. Mary Jo Cagle, the executive vice president and chief quality officer for Cone Health.  “It’s not unusual in many venues — in schools, and in many jobs — to have to require vaccinations. ”

There are exceptions, ranging from health to religious reasons, that hospitals take into account.  Employees who fall under those categories are not considered non-compliant.

The policies at these medical facilities come just as the Centers for Disease Control warns of a bad flu season.  CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden said Monday that instances of the flu had arrived a full month earlier than normal.

“It looks like it’s shaping up to be a bad flu season,” Frieden said.

Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Texas have reported enough seasonal flu cases to officially mark the beginning of the flu season.

“We’re seeing the beginning of the uptick start at least a month before we’d generally see it,” Frieden said, explaining that flu rates typically start to rise in early January.

Only 37 percent of Americans eligible for the flu vaccine actually get vaccinated for the virus.

“This is a part of our hospital’s and other hospitals’ nationwide attempt to provide the safest possible care of the patients for whom we’re responsible,” Frieden said. “This is just another part of that effort.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Study: Employees More Likely to Call Out Sick on Slow Work Days

Pixland/Thinkstock(STOCKHOLM, Sweden) -- Workers are more inclined to call out sick when they know it’s going to be a slow, boring day rather than when things are normal or busier than usual, a new study of six Swedish workplaces suggests.

Overall, researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm say workers are two-and-a-half times more likely to stay home with an illness if they know there’s not that much to do.

There are a couple of theories as to why this happens. One is that people just don’t feel particularly motivated to fight through an illness at work if it means they’ll spend most of their time doing nothing.

The second reason has more to do with bosses not wanting someone spreading their germs around, particularly if they know the office can manage fine without them for a day or two.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Study: Working Long Hours Can Double Your Risk of Depression

Comstock/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Work can be depressing at times -- that much most people know -- but now, a European study suggests that those who work long hours are twice as likely to experience a major depressive episode.

In a report published in the Jan. 25 online journal Plos ONE, researchers at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health and at University College in London followed 2,000 middle-aged government workers in Britain and saw a link between overtime work and depression. They found that those working more than 11 hours a day were at the greatest risk.

The study was adjusted for other variables, such as socioeconomic backgrounds, lifestyle and other work-related factors.

Another study of the same group last year found a 67 percent higher risk of coronary heart disease.  Study authors conceded results might have been different had they studied a younger age group.

"It is true that depression is more common in middle age, and it might also be possible that in order to have any effect on health, quite a long period of exposure to long hours is needed," author Marianna Virtanen told ABC News in an email.

Her advice to American workers was to, "make a distinction between work and leisure; don't skip your holidays; take care of your health and well-being, especially sleep and exercise."

The average number of hours worked annually by employees in the United States has steadily increased, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention's 2004 report, "Overtime and Extended Work Shifts."

American workers now surpass Japan and most of Western Europe in the number of hours devoted to working, the CDC reported.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Insomnia Costing US over $63 Billion in Lost Productivity

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- Nearly a quarter of all American workers -- 23.2 percent -- suffer from insomnia, according to a new study, and that is costing the country $63.2 billion a year.

The study, published in the Sept. 1 issued of Sleep and led by Ronald Kessler, a psychiatric epidemiologist and professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School, found that the lack of sleep is causing workers to lose 11.3 days of productivity annually.  Financially, that amounts to $2,280 per year.

As Kessler explains, “It’s an underappreciated problem.  Americans are not missing work because of insomnia.  They are still going to their jobs but accomplishing less because they’re tired.  In an information-based economy, it’s difficult to find a condition that has a greater effect on productivity.”

Researchers used a national sampling of 7,428 employees, which was part of the larger American Insomnia Study, to determine these results.

The study also found that insomnia affected only 14.3 percent of workers aged 65 and older, and that female employees were more prone to it than their male counterparts -- 27.1 percent to 19.7 percent, respectively.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Exposure to PBDEs in Workplace Can Wind Up in Your Blood

Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- Despite being taken off the U.S. market years ago, the flame retardant polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) can still be found in several workplaces and, consequently, wind up in the blood of employees, according to a study published Thursday in Environmental Health Perspectives.

PBDEs were commonly used in products ranging from computers to foam padding in furniture until they were withdrawn in 2004 over possible health concerns.  But a lot of PBDE-containing products, including office furniture, are still around today.

Researchers at the Boston University School of Public Health tested 31 office workers and their workspaces in Boston for the presence of PBDEs using wipe tests of office surfaces, employees’ hands and blood tests.  The flame retardant was detected in all office areas, on the hands of 94 percent of the workers and in the blood of 20 percent of the employees. 

Interestingly, employees who reported washing their hands frequently had lower levels of PBDEs on their hands than those who reported infrequent hand washing.   In turn, lower levels of PBDEs on hands was also linked to lower levels of PBDEs in blood. 

The study's authors concluded that exposure to PBDEs in offices is linked to PBDE residues on hands, and that blood contamination is likely due to hand-to-mouth exposure.   They stressed that “good old-fashioned soap and water may be [all that’s] needed to remove the PBDEs.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio