Missouri-based Mercy Health becomes latest hospital system to require all employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine or risk termination as Indian ‘Delta’ variant sweeps through the Midwest
- Mercy Hospital joins the growing list of hospital systems that are forcing all employees to get vaccinated
- System’s 44,000 employees will have until September 30 to keep their jobs or risk terminate
- Mercy serves four states that are being hit the hardest by COVID, including Missouri and Arkansas due to rise of the Indian ‘Delta’ variant
- Mercy Springfield was hit by a large surge of cases last weekend, as southwest Missouri becomes a national COVID hotspot
A Missouri hospital system has become the latest in the U.S. to mandate that its employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Mercy Health hospital system, headquartered in Chesterfield, Missouri, has given its 44,000 workers until September 30 to get fully vaccinated or risk termination.
The system, which also Arkansas, Oklahoma nd Kansas, says so far 75 percent of its employees have received at least one dose.
Hospitals like Mercy’s St Louis location and its locations in Arkansas have been hit hard by a surge in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks as the Indian ‘Delta’ variant sweeps through both states.
Mercy also has a location in Springfield, in southwest Missouri, the area of the country being among the hardest hit by an early-summer COVID surge.
Mercy Hospital is mandating that all employees get vaccinated by September 30 to keep their jobs. Pictured: The system’s St Louis location
‘As health care leaders in our communities, it is important we set the standard to prevent the spread of COVID-19,’ Dr William Sistrunk, an infectious disease specialist told the St Louis Post-Dispatch.
‘Our goal is to ensure the safest possible work environment for our co-workers and patients while also being a part of the effort to stop the spread of the virus in the communities we serve.’
Mercy Health employs 44,000 people between its 25 locations.
It joins Houston Methodist hospital (26,000 employees) and NewYork-Presbyterian (46,000 employees) among other major hospitals nationwide to institute vaccine mandates.
Three other hospital systems that serve the St Louis area have also instituted vaccine mandates in recent weeks – BJC HealthCare and Washington University (September 15 deadline), St. Luke’s Hospital (August 13) and SSM Health (September 30).
All of the states the hospital system serves are among those in the worst shape in fighting the virus this summer.
The Delta variant is now the dominant strain in the United States, making up 51.7 percent of new infections, and has hit no state harder than Missouri.
New daily cases in Missouri have doubled in recent weeks, from around 500 new cases a day on June 8 to 1,000 on average on July 8.
An estimated 96 percent of new cases in the state are linked to the Delta variant.
Mercy Springfield location reported that at one point over the weekend, the case load got so bad they ran out of ventilators.
‘Last weekend the number of ventilators in use escalated so quickly-something our care team has never experienced before-that we had to activate our plan to bring in more,’ Erik Frederick, the chief administrative officer of Mercy Springfield wrote in a tweet, those he said the hospital never reached a point where they could not meet demand.
Arkansas has seen its daily cases increase by more than 230 percent as well, from 180 new cases a day on June 8 to 600 on average on July 8.
Three-fourths of new cases in the state can also be attributed to the Delta variant.
Daily averages are also expected to skyrocket in the coming days, as the state recorded over 1,000 new daily cases two times this week.
Cases in Oklahoma have increased from around 100 a day on June 8 to 283 a day on July 8, a 180 percent increase, with 75 percent of new cases being of the Delta strain.
Kansas (37.5 percent increase in cases over the past month) is having a less pronounced rise in cases than its peers, but 88 percent of new cases are of the Delta variant – setting the stage for a bigger outbreak soon.
All four states have struggled to get their population vaccinated.
Kansas (42.4 percent of population fully vaccinated) are leading the group with a lackluster total, with Missouri (39.5), Oklahoma (38.9) and Arkansas (34.7) following.
Recent research finds that people who only have received one shot of a two-shot vaccine sequence are still vulnerable to the virus.