93% of CoxHealth employees vaccinated against COVID-19; mandatory deadline is Friday – KY3

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) – CoxHealth has 93% of its employees vaccinated against COVID-19 across its entire system.

President, CEO Steve Edwards says the numbers in Springfield tend to be higher than in the rural clinics and hospitals.

“Across the board, we’re seeing those areas generally move up together and so we have contingency plans,” Edwards says. “We look at every single department to analyze that.”

Edwards says some rural areas have more hesitancy when it comes to the vaccine.

“The culture, the social culture, the political culture all influence us,” Edwards says. “None of us are immune to it. Not even healthcare workers so it probably impacts some people more than others.”

However, Edwards says he’s optimistic vaccine rates among those employees will continue to rise.

The hospital is also increasing its number of new hires, adding about 100 new employees per week.

Edwards says that allows them to fill gaps if employees choose not to get vaccinated.

“As we grow as a system we have the capability to move around resources if necessary but for the most part we don’t see a gap in any of our hospitals we can’t cover,” Edwards says.

Edwards says any employee who isn’t vaccinated by Friday, October 15 will be put on a 30-day suspension. During that suspension, the employee wouldn’t be able to work or be paid during that time. However, they would still get benefits.

“If an employee reviewed the circumstance and decided to get a vaccine, they wouldn’t be harmed in any way in terms of the policy,” Edwards says.

The hospital expects the entire staff to be from 95%- 97% vaccinated by Friday. Those vaccine rates are monitored by each department.

“Our highest level of compliance is our physicians who are approaching 98, 99%,” Edwards says. “Lower level compliance tend to people who are further away from patient care and younger.”

Mercy Hospital was not available for an interview but did send KY3 this statement:

As of September 30, 97% of Mercy co-workers were in compliance with the policy requiring them to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or have an approved medical or religious exemption. Others were placed on a 28-day unpaid suspension with full benefits and given the opportunity to comply with the policy. We won’t know the full impact until that deadline, but every day, more co-workers are completing their vaccinations. We were prepared and were able to cover shifts to continue Mercy’s mission.

It has been a difficult time for Mercy with the loss of some co-workers who contributed to our mission through the years, but Mercy simply believes this is the right thing to do to protect our communities from the spread of COVID-19. In requiring the vaccine for all of our co-workers and providing them three months to fulfill this requirement, we join the many other health care organizations and companies in our communities and across the country, who mutually recognize COVID vaccination serves the common good, protects patients and is crucial to safeguarding public health.

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