The Joint Commission announced that it will require all employees who travel to healthcare organizations for surveys, reviews and other onsite activities to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18. This action will help protect Joint Commission staff, as well as frontline healthcare workers, staff and patients in the healthcare organizations that The Joint Commission accredits, certifies and works with on quality improvement activities.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Joint Commission paused all onsite surveys and reviews from mid-March through May 2020. During that time, processes were developed for conducting offsite (formerly called “virtual”) events. In the latter half of 2020, The Joint Commission was able to resume onsite surveys for some of its accreditation programs using county-level data on COVID-19 rates to determine where onsite events could be conducted safely. With the advent in early 2021 of COVID vaccines approved under FDA Emergency Use Authorization, The Joint Commission was able to resume a more regular program of unannounced surveys and reviews.
With the arrival and rapid spread of the Delta variant in the United States, the pandemic took yet another deadly turn. The Joint Commission has committed to ensure that all staff who interact onsite with accredited organizations are vaccinated, and strongly encourages vaccination for all healthcare workers. COVID-19 has been responsible for more than 650,000 deaths in the United States.
During this summer’s upsurge, the vast majority of new cases and deaths have occurred among people who have not been vaccinated. As long as so many fellow citizens remain unvaccinated, the COVID-19 risk will remain high for some time. As has been the case since it began, The Joint Commission will continue to closely monitor the course of the pandemic and make appropriate adjustments to its policies and procedures to maximize the safety of its employees and the value they provide to the healthcare organizations they work with.