COVID Vaccine Deadline Passes for Many Texas Hospitals

Doctor holding COVID-19 test tube and hourglass
Image by Zephyr18

Friday, October 1, was the deadline for healthcare workers at several North Texas hospitals to receive the Covid-19 vaccine. These include Baylor Scott & White Health, Methodist Health System, and Children’s Health.

A spokesperson for Baylor Scott & White Health told WFAA that as of the October 1 deadline, 98% of their employees are vaccinated.

According to Dallas Hospital Council CEO Stephen Love, the mandates led to more workers on the front lines getting vaccinated.

Love told WFAA, “On the ones that have mandated, they tell me it’s going very well. They’ve had committees set up that work with any [religious] exemptions requested, and they try to be fair.”

WFAA reported that a majority of employees for Cook Children’s in Fort Worth complied with the mandate. They have over 8,000 workers total. Sixty-seven resigned and eighteen were terminated for not getting the vaccine, according to spokesperson Kim Brown.

Cook Children’s had their own vaccine deadline of September 27.

Wise Health System in Decatur is one of the Texas healthcare systems that has not put a vaccine mandate in place yet.

In a letter to their staff, CEO Jason Wren said, “We have chosen not to make any decisions on a COVID-19 vaccine mandate until we have more information and guidance as to what is required, but we will be prepared to comply with whatever requirements are ultimately put in place.”

In late September, Wise Health hit a record high, reaching 109% capacity. Wren described it as the most challenging time they had experienced during the pandemic.

“This is definitely the highest we’ve been from a COVID standpoint and from a capacity standpoint during the pandemic,” he told WFAA.

Wren said it took a toll on staff members as they cared for patients during the time.

“It is very straining to continue to face challenges,” he explained. “As soon as one patient gets discharged, there’s another behind them. There’s no rest for the weary.”

According to the state health department, Wise County saw a spike in Covid deaths in August, and an uptick in cases starting in September. Since tracking started, there have been over 8,000 confirmed cases in the county.

Wren told WFAA that 90% of hospitalized Covid patients since the spring had been unvaccinated.

“Regardless of how you feel about COVID, please take this seriously,” he said.

President Joe Biden’s administration announced in September their plans to put in place a vaccine mandate expansion that would apply to around 17 million healthcare workers.

According to WFAA, the Dallas Hospital Council will be monitoring the federal expansion.

Love said, “Hospitals always do everything they can to fully comply. It’s really what I would call a fluid situation where we’ve just gotta watch it, see what guidance comes down, and see how to react in a constructive way.”

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