As hospital worker vaccination deadlines approach and pass, what happens next?

UK Chandler hospital.PNG
Posted at 5:10 PM, Sep 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-16 17:29:43-04

(LEX 18) — After President Joe Biden's Sept. 9 announcement of a federal requirement for workers at most healthcare facilities to be vaccinated against COVID-19 — and some hospitals' self-imposed requirements of the same — deadlines are approaching and passing for many workers to get the shot.

So how are hospitals and workers handling the requirement?

One hospital, St. Claire HealthCare in Morehead, announced Wednesday that 100% of their employees were compliant with the COVID-19 vaccination policy.

"If the events of that last few months have taught us anything, it is that the unvaccinated are extremely vulnerable to this virus," said Donald H. Lloyd, II, St. Claire HealthCare President and CEO. "We believe requiring COVID-19 vaccination of all staff is the moral and ethical act necessary to assure the safety of our patients and our workforce."

At University of Kentucky HealthCare, where employees were supposed to have started their complete vaccination by Tuesday, no employees had been fired because of the vaccine mandate as of Wednesday, spokeswoman Kristi Willett said.

For any employees with approved exemptions from the vaccine, mandatory COVID-19 PCR testing is required on a regular basis, Willett said. Those without the approved exemption who haven’t been vaccinated are also required to be regularly tested, but they will also face "progressive disciplinary action."

If unvaccinated employees do not comply with regular testing requirements, the final disciplinary measure could be termination, Willett said.

While UK HealthCare did not release whether any employees had quit because of the requirement, saying that the facility doesn't know the reasons employees quit or relocate, the "turnover rate" at UK HealthCare has remained consistent with or lower than "national statistics for health care facilities," Willett said.

The majority of UK Healthcare's nearly 15,000 workers had been vaccinated as of Wednesday, but exact numbers were not available due to vaccine verifications still being processed, Willett said.

At Baptist Health Lexington, employees have until Sept. 15 to get their first shot of either the Pfizer or Moderna two-shot vaccine, spokeswoman Ruth Ann Childers said. Employees must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 31. The single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine also counts toward the requirement.

Bowling Green Medical Center required vaccines for their employees before the federal requirement was in place. On Sept. 3, the hospital announced that they'd fired 180 employees because of the requirement, but they'd hired 178 new employees who were vaccinated.