Med Center Health: Spike in COVID numbers drove requirement

Med Center Health decided to require all medical staff, students, residents, fellows and vendors to receive the COVID-19 vaccine after the hospital saw a “sharp increase” in COVID-19 patients, Med Center Health Executive Vice President Wade Stone told the Daily News.

People in leadership positions have through Aug. 9 to receive their first dose of the vaccine, and all other staff have through Sept. 1, Med Center Health said Thursday in announcing the requirement.

A Med Center Health news release said more than 59 health and medical groups – including the American Medical Association, American Nurses Association and American College of Physicians – have called for all health care and long-term care employers to require the vaccine.

“This is the right thing to do for our staff, our patients and our community,” Med Center Health President and CEO Connie Smith said in a statement. “We have an obligation to do everything in our power to protect the health and well-being of others and to help end this pandemic.”

Stone said Med Center Health was seeing COVID-19 patients in the low single digits in recent months. But that number spiked in recent days to more than 20, and the sickest patients are unvaccinated.

“We are a role model for leading health care in this region, and it’s important for us to lead by example,” Stone said. “Similar to the way we led efforts to get our vaccine clinic organized, we felt it was important for us to move on this as well. We feel vaccination is clearly the key to ending this pandemic.

“We consulted with our leadership group and we are 100% certain this is the right path,” he said. “Our mission is to improve the quality of life for our region, and we are going to do whatever it takes to do so. This is an important step to make sure we do that. If you are going to be taking care of patients, you need to be vaccinated. We are the safety net hospital for this entire region.”

Stone said about 65% of The Medical Center’s staff has been vaccinated.

When asked why a large section had not received their shot, Stone said it was a reflection of what’s happening with the general population.

“I believe nearly all of our medical staff have been vaccinated,” he said. “The public should seek information from local physicians and hear their thoughts. It’s clear: Vaccination is the key to ending the pandemic. We need to see vaccinations go up in this area. That’s just how it is.”

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