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  • Sara Doan, Northeast Arkansas News

St. Bernards, NEA Baptist to require employees to get Covid-19 vaccine

We are hearing from both St. Bernards and NEA Baptist after they decided to require employees to get vaccinated.

That's right. St. Bernards and NEA Baptist employees who are on the fence about getting the Covid-19 vaccine will have to roll up their sleeves or find another job.

This follows a trend we're seeing of hospitals and businesses across the country requiring their employees to get vaccinated.

“We had two hundred Covid hospitalized patients in northeast Arkansas. And the spread of this Delta variant is so contagious, we couldn’t wait,” says St. Bernards Healthcare CEO Chris Barber.

NEA Baptist CEO Sam Lynd, releasing a statement about the mandate. Saying the requirement for employees to get vaccinated was “carefully evaluated using all available data, research and expertise provided by many resources including experts within our own Baptist Memorial Health Care family”.

He goes on to say, “…data shows that the vast majority of covid related severe illness occurs in the unvaccinated. It is clear that vaccination is our strongest and best defense against the coronavirus…”

Barber hopes this mandate will help prevent another surge

“Everybody has to understand the criticality of this disease, where we are in the pandemic,” he says. “And we’ve got to take some different and bold steps to impact this as we move forward in the fall and winter months.”

With the hospital's staff stretched thin, Lynd says this will help.

“…we have seen younger, healthier patients contract the virus with serious symptoms. This also threatens our ability to keep our team members safe and provide care.”

According to a press release from the hospital, 60 percent of Baptist employees are already vaccinated, with St. Bernards saying 70 percent of their workforce inoculated.

Employees will have until November 1 to be fully vaccinated or find another job. With the leadership team having to meet that requirement by October 1. But there are some expectations.

“For medical conditions or religious exemptions for folks who will go through the process to be evaluated in that category. We hope folks won’t go somewhere else, but we respect their decision,” Barber says.

Hospital employees are already required to get an annual flu shot.

St Bernards has already invested one million dollars into vaccine initiatives to encourage and promote it among their employees. Something that Barber says will continue.


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