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Hoag Takes Major Steps to Protect Employees and Physicians, Their Families, and the Public As Flu Season Approaches

Categories: Press Room

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (Sept. 22, 2020) – In their unwavering commitment to the safety of our community, the George Hoag Family Foundation has donated $400,000 to ensure that every Hoag employee, physician and immediate family members of Hoag employees and physicians, are able to receive free flu shots. The donation underscores the heightened importance of the flu vaccine during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Frontline caregivers put their lives and the lives of their loved ones at risk just by going into work. We feel strongly it is necessary to protect the physicians and employees while helping to avoid a surge of influenza cases during a global public health crisis,” said George Hoag Family Foundation President Melinda Hoag Smith, who along with her husband, foundation Managing Director Chuck Smith, made the donation possible. “This year it is more important than ever for everyone to get a flu shot, and we wanted to make sure that our hospital community had the access to influenza vaccines that they need to stay safe and to keep the public safe.”

Meanwhile, Hoag has doubled its order of flu vaccinations and will administer vaccinations – for both the public and for Hoag employees and families – starting in mid-September 2020.

“Influenza and coronavirus are two different, potentially fatal diseases which means it is possible for a person to become infected with both,” said Robert T. Braithwaite, president and CEO of Hoag. “It is our hope that everyone six months and older receives a flu vaccine to help prevent a second public health crisis.”

Braithwaite added, “In addition to protecting our staff and physicians, we are committed to protecting their families and our surrounding communities as well. We are grateful to the George Hoag Family Foundation and to Melinda and Chuck Smith for their generosity and their exceptional commitment to the Hoag family.”

In recent years, vaccinations have reduced the risk of flu-associated hospitalizations among older adults by 40 percent on average. Hoag has a clear policy in place through its Seasonal Influenza Program requiring all Hoag employees and health care personnel (HPC) working at a Hoag facility or location to receive their flu vaccination at no cost. The donation from the George Hoag Family Foundation supports this effort while extending the free shots to immediate family members of Hoag employees.

Depending on the severity of the season, influenza kills between 12,000 and 61,000 Americans per year. Medical professionals are predicting an extremely harsh flu season this fall and winter and that, combined with the coronavirus pandemic, increases the probability that physicians will need to test sick patients for both illnesses, as COVID-19 and influenza present the same symptoms.

“Flu vaccinations not only protect hospital employees, but those around them as well, including those who are more vulnerable to serious illness. Vaccination of high-risk groups has been called the single most important influenza control measure by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” said Philip A. Robinson, M.D., medical director of Infection Prevention at Hoag.

Hoag is offering several options for patients to receive flu shots throughout the fall season. Hoag’s hospitals, flu shot health fairs and physician offices are safe, and are following the most stringent guidelines to safeguard the vaccination process. Hoag’s Faith Community Nurses will coordinate up to 70 flu clinics offering free flu vaccinations to the community.

“We are living in an unprecedented time where a global health pandemic is threatening our health in ways we have never experienced before,” Braithwaite said. “Thankfully, Hoag is positioned to provide the best care possible for our community with help from incredibly generous friends like Melinda and Chuck Smith.”

ABOUT HOAG

Hoag is a nonprofit, regional health care delivery network in Orange County, California, that treats more than 30,000 inpatients and 480,000 outpatients annually. Hoag consists of two acute-care hospitals – Hoag Hospital Newport Beach, which opened in 1952, and Hoag Hospital Irvine, which opened in 2010 – in addition to nine health centers and 13 urgent care centers. Hoag has invested $261 million in programs and services to support the underserved community within the past five years, including areas like mental health, homelessness, transportation for seniors, education, and support for single mothers. Hoag is a designated Magnet® hospital by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Hoag offers a comprehensive blend of health care services that includes five institutes providing specialized services in the following areas: cancer, heart and vascular, neurosciences, women’s health, and orthopedics through Hoag’s affiliate, Hoag Orthopedic Institute, which consists of an orthopedic hospital and two ambulatory surgical centers. In the 2020 - 2021 U.S. News & World Report Best Hospitals Rankings, Hoag is the highest ranked hospital in Orange County and the only OC hospital ranked in the Top 10 in California. For an unprecedented 23 years, residents of Orange County have chosen Hoag as one of the county’s best hospitals in a local newspaper survey. Visit www.hoag.org for more information.

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