ELKINS — Davis Health System (DHS) announced Thursday that they will require all employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Joining other health systems across West Virginia and the nation, DHS notified the employees of Davis Medical Center, Broaddus Hospital and Webster County Memorial Hospital that they must receive both doses of the Pfizer vaccine by October 31.
“As an industry grounded in the science of healthcare, this is an important step for our hospitals,” said DHS CEO Vance Jackson. “We feel it’s our responsibility to make sure our medical and clinical teams, patients and communities are as safe as possible.”
“When we look at our own vaccination rates, the surge of unvaccinated patient admissions, and state hospitalization data, we have to do more to enable the management of the virus within our hospitals,” Jackson added.
Jackson said most state hospitals were already battling staff recruitment issues when the Delta variant hit. “We’re seeing more staff out due to COVID and quarantine. Staffing the patient units is a daily struggle,” he said.
“Scientific evidence supports the COVID-19 vaccine as a very safe and highly effective means for preventing the transmission of the virus, reducing likelihood of hospitalization due to the virus and death from the virus,” said DHS Chief Medical Officer Catherine “Mindy” Chua, DO, FAAFP, FMNM, CPE.
The DHS employee vaccination rate is 63%. All employees and medical/clinical staff have been offered the vaccine. Employees have until October 31 to comply; and, those who choose not to vaccinate will not be scheduled to work, and will be considered as resigned from their position.
Any staff not able to receive the vaccine for medical or religious reasons must apply for an exemption, similar to DHS’ universal flu, hepatitis-B, MMR, T-dap, and Varicella vaccine policies.
In addition, support for the new policy will be provided through education and one-on-one consultations to have questions about the vaccine answered by a DHS provider, pharmacist or Infection Control specialist.
Recently, the US Food and Drug Administration granted full approval of the Pfizer vaccine. WVU Medicine, Mon Health, CAMC and other state hospitals have already announced vaccine mandates for employees.
The West Virginia Hospital Association issued an August statement supporting vaccine mandates for hospital employees.
The statement said, “West Virginia hospitals are committed to making the state’s hospitals safer for every patient, visitor, and staff member. This commitment to the safety of patients and hospital staff is why hospitals have historically required vaccination against seasonal flu and other contagious diseases, and why some hospitals have recently announced COVID-19 requirements… Hospital employee and staff vaccination against COVID-19 will maintain the long-term ability of our health care system to respond to the pandemic, to safely care for patients by protecting them from infection, and to mitigate the impact of the virus within health care facilities and among patients, hospital personnel, and their families and friends. It is important for hospitals and health systems to lead in the critical mission to increase vaccination rates; therefore, the West Virginia Hospital Association encourages all West Virginians to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.”