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Several Kentucky hospitals to require COVID vaccines for their employees

Published: Aug. 5, 2021 at 7:10 PM EDT
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PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WSAZ) - As coronavirus cases surge across Kentucky, an overwhelming concern from doctors is the number of cases tied to unvaccinated individuals.

On Thursday, Gov. Andy Beshear announced hospital executives from 11 health care systems will require all employees, volunteers, and medical students to have their COVID-19 vaccine.

“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 health care systems adding this vaccine requirement for staff include Appalachian Regional Healthcare (ARH), Baptist Health, CHI Saint Joseph Health, King’s Daughters Health System, Med Center Health, Norton Healthcare, Pikeville Medical Center, St. Claire Healthcare, St. Elizabeth Healthcare, UK Healthcare, and UofL Health.

Kentucky also reported 2,000 newly reported cases on Thursday, along with four new deaths.

The number of coronavirus cases in children and teens are up by 84% in just one week, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Infectious disease specialist Dr. Fares Khater about dying from COVID-19: “it’s a miserable death.” He’s not afraid to be blunt in helping people realize the severity of being unvaccinated.

He’s in support of ARH’s vaccination mandate as he believes health care workers should “lead by example.”

“We have seen entire departments from no infection to the whole department being infected by one employee.”

King’s Daughters Medical Center said team members who choose not to be vaccinated, or who request an exemption for medical or religious reasons will be required to be tested for COVID-19 weekly.

“As a major healthcare provider in this region, we have an obligation to take every step possible to ensure the safety of our patients and the community and to protect our team members,” said Kristie Whitlatch, president and CEO of KDMC.

Pikeville Medical Center also echoed sentiments of urging people to get vaccinated.

“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 CEO of Pikeville Medical Center.

More than 780,000 vaccinated Kentuckians have signed up for the $1 million drawing and nearly 46,000 vaccinated youth have signed up for the full scholarship drawing. Since the Shot at a Million incentive program was announced, 268,550 Kentuckians received at least their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

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