Advertisement

Local employer, of more than 5,000 people, implements COVID vaccine requirement

All Monument Health employees, whether directly involved in patient care or not, are now required to get the COVID vaccine.
All Monument Health employees, whether directly involved in patient care or not, are now...
All Monument Health employees, whether directly involved in patient care or not, are now required to get the COVID vaccine.
Published: Sep. 16, 2021 at 6:02 PM MDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - President Joe Biden announced a vaccine requirement last week for all companies employing more than 100 people; causing some to celebrate and others to protest.

South Dakota’s attorney general, Jason Ravnsborg, announced Thursday, he was joining a 24 state coalition demanding Biden drop the mandate or risk legal action.

But while the mandate could be challenged, one local company announced its own mandate.

All Monument Health employees, whether directly involved in patient care or not, are now required to get the COVID vaccine.

Despite the shot being available for healthcare workers since December of 2020, the hospital’s vaccination rates are currently a little more than half.

“We’re currently a little over 55% of our employed staff and we expect that with the requirement, we should get up to 80 or higher,” said Dr. Shankar Kurra, vice president of medical affairs for Monument Health.

Monument Health employs more than 5,000 people, one of the biggest local employers but Kurra says misinformation and conspiracy play a part in the health care system’s low vaccination rate.

“We’d like our employees to understand why this is important and also understand the risks they’re facing by not getting vaccinated,” continued Kurra. “And you can see, we’re seeing in the hospital anywhere from 88 to 91% of different settings, 88% is general medical setting and 91% in the ICU are unvaccinated, so you can see the vast majority of our patients are because they were not vaccinated.”

Our viewers are chiming in, saying unvaccinated vs. vaccinated COVID hospital patients is closer to 50%.

The South Dakota Department of Health says ICUs are at capacity now and as Kurra stated, it’s almost entirely the unvaccinated.

“We have 39 ICU beds, they are full, so we are maxed out,” said Kurra. “The stress on the health system is real which is why we keep saying, ‘go get vaccinated’, this can become unsustainable if we continue to see this go on for the next three months but for now, we’re managing.”

Part of managing has been preparing for this mandate.

Kurra saying they’ve been prepared for this announcement but wanted a vaccine with full FDA approval as well as a plan for the marching orders.

“This is a requirement just like we’ve done for the flu,” continued Kurra. “And these are again, we are a health system and to do the right thing, to safeguard our patients and families and get the vaccination rate up.”

Monument employees will be able to file for exemption based on medical issues and sincerely held religious beliefs.

It was not said if people will be fired if they don’t comply with the December 1 deadline but would then work out the details with human resources.

Copyright 2021 KEVN. All rights reserved.