Covenant Health will comply with COVID vaccine mandate

Methodist Medical Center Main Entrance
Methodist Medical Center of Oak Ridge is pictured above.

Covenant Health is among the hospital organizations in the Knoxville area that will comply with the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for facilities that participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

The hospitals announced on Thursday that they plan to comply.

“On November 4, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a COVID-19 vaccination mandate for health care facilities that participate in Medicare and Medicaid programs to protect health care workers, patients, families, and visitors from COVID-19,” a press release said. “CMS is very clear that non-compliance with this mandate will result in severe penalties to hospitals, up to and including exclusion from participation in Medicare.”

Covenant includes Methodist Medical Center of Oak Ridge and other local health care facilities.

Other organizations planning to comply with the vaccine mandate include Blount Memorial Hospital, East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, Sweetwater Hospital Association, and The University of Tennessee Medical Center.

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Covenant Health receives first shipment of COVID-19 vaccine

Covenant Health, which includes Methodist Medical Center of Oak Ridge, received its first shipment of the first approved COVID-19 vaccine in the United States on Thursday.

It’s the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. That’s a new type of vaccine, a messenger RNA, or mRNA, vaccine. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved an emergency use authorization for the vaccine on Friday for patients 16 years old and older.

The first round of the vaccine will be offered to Covenant Health employees working in environments that are considered high risk or high exposure to COVID-19.

Receiving the vaccine is voluntary for staff, Covenant Health said in an announcement Thursday. The vaccine will be administered on a planned schedule at all Covenant Health acute care facilities. The vaccine will also be available for home health employees and employees who work in long-term care facilities, the announcement said.

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Covenant Health, other hospitals stop non-essential adult procedures

This tent outside the emergency department at Methodist Medical Center is not being used as of Sunday, March 22, 2020, but it is set up in case the hospital has to expand services for a surge. (Photo by John Huotari/Oak Ridge Today)

Covenant Health and other Knoxville-area hospitals will temporarily stop non-essential adult procedures starting Monday, March 23.

Methodist Medical Center of Oak Ridge is part of Covenant Health.

In Knoxville, East Tennessee Children’s Hospital will limit certain non-essential pediatric procedures.

“Ultimately, hospitals will rely on providers to use clinical judgement and standards of care in determining when to complete a procedure,” area hospitals said in a press release Friday.

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MMC asks you to call ahead if you have COVID-19 symptoms

Methodist Medical Center of Oak Ridge is pictured above. (Submitted photo)

Methodist Medical Center of Oak Ridge is asking you to call ahead if you have symptoms of COVID-19: fever, coughing, or breathing problems.

That’s consistent with recommendations from the Tennessee Department of Health, which asks you to call your health care provider first if you have COVID-19 symptoms.

MMC said you should call (865) 835-3408 before you go to the hospital’s emergency room, and you will be given an explanation of what you should do before you visit.

When you arrive at MMC’s Emergency Department, you will be met outside for a quick assessment, the hospital said. Once assessed, you may be given a mask and asked to wear it before entering the facility. You will be escorted inside by a team member.

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MMC announces visitor restrictions

Methodist Medical Center of Oak Ridge has announced visitor restrictions.

No one with any illness (fever, cough, shortness of breath, etc.) should visit, MMC said in a social media post.

Only household contacts or those considered critical to the support of a patients’ health care may visit, said MMC, which is part of the Covenant Health network.

The restrictions were announced as the nation continues to prepare for a COVID-19 outbreak, the respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus.

Covenant Health issues statement in response to coronavirus questions

Methodist Medical Center of Oak Ridge is pictured above. (Submitted photo)

Asked about testing and recommended procedures for coronavirus, Covenant Health issued a statement this weekend that did not respond to some specific questions, particularly about testing, but the health care network did say that it has protocols in place, its medical professionals have been trained, and it is working hard to ensure it has adequate supplies.

Covenant Health has nine hospitals in East Tennessee, including Methodist Medical Center of Oak Ridge, and other health care facilities, including Family Clinic of Oak Ridge.

Oak Ridge Today has asked Covenant Health questions about coronavirus and testing for COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus. Among the questions: How many testing kits does Covenant Health have, if any, and what are the criteria for testing? Does Covenant Health need the kits yet? Has anyone been tested at Covenant facilities, including in Oak Ridge? If so, how many people have been tested, and what were the outcomes? Is Covenant Health sharing any recommended procedures with people who think they might need to be tested? If so, what are they?

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In It To Win It game night to benefit Methodist’s Hospitality Houses

Hospitality Houses
One of the Hospitality Houses is pictured above. (Submitted photo from March 2015)

Are you a trivia buff? Do you like to hum tunes from current playlists or years past? Methodist Medical Center Foundation is hosting its fourth annual In It To Win It” on Saturday, April 27, at Calhoun’s Oak Ridge. Patrons will compete in general trivia and “Sing-o” music games designed to delight and entertain, and they will enjoy a robust buffet provided by Calhoun’s Oak Ridge, a press release said. All proceeds will benefit patients and families at The Hospitality Houses of Methodist Medical Center of Oak Ridge.

The Hospitality Houses are supported by MMC Foundation and offer temporary housing that is free of charge for patients and families who travel to Methodist Medical Center for extended medical treatment. This long-time service is possible because of community support, including monetary contributions, donations of food or household goods, and volunteer participation.

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ASAP to host Opioid Alternatives Lunch and Learn Series

ASAP of Anderson Opioid Alternatives Lunch and Learn 2019

ASAP partners with local providers to educate on opioid alternatives

ASAP of Anderson is hosting a bi-monthly Opioid Alternatives Lunch and Learn Series at Methodist Medical Center. Each Lunch and Learn will provide information about a specific opioid alternative treatment from a qualified professional, a press release said.

  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) on April 23
  • Massage Therapy on June 25
  • Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction on August 27
  • Physical Therapy/Wellness on October 29
  • Acupuncture on December 17

The Opioid Alternatives Lunch and Learn Series is a follow-on to two continuing medical education trainings hosted by ASAP in March 2018 and early March 2019, the press release said. These trainings covered opioid prescribing and pain management, including behavioral aspects of pain management. [Read more…]

Construction advisory for Methodist Medical Center

Methodist Medical Center Main Entrance

Methodist Medical Center of Oak Ridge is pictured above.


Starting Friday, March 16, construction crews will be working day and night on top of the roof of Methodist Medical Center this weekend to install new air handling units on the hospital’s West Tower. Because of the nature and non-stop timing of this project, there will be activity and lighting on the roof of West Tower around the clock until the work is completed sometime on the evening of Sunday, March 18, a press release said.

For patient comfort, patients and staff currently on 5-West will be moved to another floor to minimize exposure to noise during the project. In addition, a portion of the driveway around the back of the hospital will be closed due to equipment staging. The hospital’s helipad will also be closed to helicopter traffic; however, an alternative landing zone has been coordinated with the Oak Ridge Fire Department for any incoming or outgoing air transport needs.

Emergency services should be accessed via the east side of the hospital nearest the Emergency Department entrance. All private car discharges will occur from the Main Lobby during this period.

This press release was submitted by Crystal Jordan.

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority has 30th MLK Program on Monday

Archie Smart

Archie Smart

In celebration of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated (AKA), Oak Ridge Chapter, will present its 30th annual Community Speaks Program on Monday, January 15, at 9:45 a.m. at Consolidated Nuclear Security’s New Hope Center on Scarboro Road. This year’s theme is “Together We Win with Love for Humanity,” a press release said.

Archie Smart, the keynote speaker, is a native of South Carolina, a press release said. He received a bachelor’s degree in history from South Carolina State University. Smart is a veteran of the U.S. Army, where he served as a commissioned officer in the Adjutant General Corps.

He is a project manager at Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU), where he manages the third consecutive National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) project, the press release said. [Read more…]

Hospital workers to picket Tuesday as contract negotiations continue

Members of Service Employees International Union Local 205 rallied in front of Methodist Medical Center during a heavy rain on Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017, to protest the state of negotiations on a new three-year contract. The rally included about 150 people, and the crowd stretched over a block. (Photo submitted by SEIU)

Members of Service Employees International Union Local 205 rallied in front of Methodist Medical Center during a heavy rain on Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017, to protest the state of negotiations on a new three-year contract. The rally included about 150 people, and the crowd stretched over a block. (Photo submitted by SEIU)


Hospital workers at Methodist Medical Center of Oak Ridge will have an informational picket on Tuesday as contract negotiations continue.

The picket, meant to educate staff and the community, is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, November 7, at Methodist Medical Center, which is at 990 Oak Ridge Oak Ridge Turnpike, a press release said.

Nurses and support staff, along with their allies in the community, will attend, the press release said.

Service Employees International Union Local 205 represents more than 800 registered nurses and service and technical employees at MMC, a Covenant Health facility in Oak Ridge. In a Monday press release, the SEIU said the hospital workers have been working under a three-year contract that is set to expire on November 15.

“Last week, union members voted overwhelmingly to authorize their bargaining committee to issue the hospital a notice of intent to strike if an agreement cannot be reached,” the press release said. “Issues which are in dispute are maintaining safe staffing levels and reasonable working hours, Methodist’s plan to slash wages for new employees, and affordable health insurance on par with other Covenant facilities.” [Read more…]