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PMC, King’s Daughters to require employee COVID-19 vaccinations

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Credit: Images By Tang Ming Tung/DigitalVision/Getty Images

PIKEVILLE, KY (WOWK) – Several healthcare facilities across Kentucky say they will now be requiring employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The list of includes Pikeville Medical Center, King’s Daughters Health System, Appalachian Regional Healthcare, CHI Saint Joseph Health, Med Center Health, Norton Healthcare, St. Claire Healthcare, St. Elizabeth Healthcare, University of Kentucky HealthCare and University of Louisville Health.

“The health care facilities below are committed to the health and safety of our patients and employees. In support of this commitment, we will all require our health care workforce to initiate a complete COVID-19 vaccination series no later than Sept. 15, 2021,” the statement said.

Formal statement from healthcare systems in Kentucky pledging to require their employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19. (Photo Courtesy: Team Kentucky)

Some of the CEOs of these healthcare facilities joined Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear and Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health, for their weekly Team Kentucky meeting to make the announcement, which comes as COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the Bluegrass State and the U.S.

“I am honored today to be here with my colleagues in this monumental step forward in defeating this virus. Just a month ago I had three COVID patients and only one in the ICU. As of this morning, I had 43 patients in the hospital. Over a third of them are in the ICU fighting for their life. Vaccines are necessary if we are going to win the fight,” said Donovan Blackburn, president and chief executive officer, Pikeville Medical Center.

Also during the update, Beshear stressed concern over the growing number of younger people contracting the virus. Blackburn said some of those hospitalized at PMC are in their teens and 20s. Kentucky health officials say the state reported 1,197 COVID-19 cases among Kentuckians ages 12-18, and 534 cases among Kentucky children under age 12. However, in July, those numbers nearly quadrupled with 4,165 cases reported for the 12 to 18 age group and 2,092 cases reported in children under 12.

“As a health care provider, it is very important we take every possible step to safely care for our patients and families. We firmly believe being fully vaccinated from COVID is essential to protect our patients, team members and people in the community that cannot be vaccinated, in particular children under 12 years old,” said Kristie Whitlatch, president and chief executive officer of KDHS, in a statement.

Health officials also urged members of the community to get vaccinated to help stop the growing spread of the virus, especially the Delta variant. Stack also said that from March 1 to Aug. 4, 2021, 92.3% of COVID-19 cases, 91.4% of COVID-19 hospitalizations and 88.7% of COVID-19 deaths were among partially vaccinated or unvaccinated Kentuckians. 

Beshear says the new policy these health systems are implementing will help them respond to the surging COVID-19 cases caused by the Delta variant. As of today, Thursday, Aug. 5. the state has recorded 492,556 total cases and 7,366 deaths related to the virus since the pandemic began in March 2020.

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