BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (KT) - Med Center Health on Thursday became the second health system in Kentucky to require employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
The requirement includes medical staff, students, residents, fellows and vendors across the Med Center Health system.
Those in leadership positions will have through Aug. 9 to receive their first dose while all others will have through Sept. 1.
Med Center Health’s decision follows a significant increase in COVID-19 hospital admissions in recent days. This trend is reflected across the country as the delta and other variants spread predominantly among the unvaccinated.
A growing number of hospitals and health systems are requiring vaccination for employees. Earlier this week, it was reported that more than 59 health and medical groups – including the American Medical Association, American Nurses Association, American College of Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics and American Public Health Association – have called for all health care and long-term care employers to require the vaccine for their employees.
“This is the right thing to do for our staff, our patients and our community,” said Med Center Health President and CEO Connie Smith in a press release. “We have an obligation to do everything in our power to protect the health and well-being of others and to help end this pandemic.”
Dr. William Moss, medical director of Med Center Health’s ER, is all too familiar with the toll that COVID-19 has taken on Bowling Green and surrounding communities and welcomes the decision by Med Center Health to require the vaccination. “While I believe nearly all of our physicians are vaccinated, our hospital employee population mirrors that of other health systems at around 65%. That rate must go up as we fight to end this pandemic. I commend Med Center Health and its leadership for making this move.” Moss added, “While we are seeing breakthrough cases in our vaccinated population, the vast majority of new cases are unvaccinated individuals – not surprisingly, those are the sickest patients who find themselves on a ventilator in the ICU, clinging to life.”
Med Center Health would like to see the list of health care organizations requiring vaccination for employees continue to grow.
“I believe other health care systems will follow, and I’m hopeful that those employers outside of health care will also consider policies to drive increased vaccinations – lives literally depend on it,” Smith said, noting September 1 would be nearing the one-year anniversary of Dr. Rebecca Shadowen’s passing. Dr. Shadowen was an infectious disease specialist and local coronavirus workgroup leader.
“Dr. Shadowen dreamed of the day we would have a vaccine," Smith said. "It could have saved her life. Now that vaccine is readily available, we want to do everything we can to make sure it saves the lives of others.”