Several Virginia hospitals and health systems have not imposed vaccine mandates for their employees, although they are becoming more common across the state and nationwide. Hospitals that implemented mandates include Inova, VCU Health, and Valley Health, but Ballad Health, Sentara, HCA hospitals, and Bon Secours have not, the Virginia Mercury reported Wednesday.
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Governor Ralph Northam announced a statewide mandate for the Commonwealth’s 122,000 state workers on Aug. 5, which would require employees to provide proof of vaccination or undergo weekly testing.
The mandates reflect concerns over the more transmissible Delta variant. According to state data, the Commonwealth had an average of 1,800 COVID cases as of last week. While this marks a significant uptick from June (cases averaged less than 100), the cases have not surpassed the more severe surge in January 2021, as previous models warned.
Some hospitals are hesitant to impose vaccine mandates due to concerns over losing employees. Ballad Health CEO Alan Levine told TV outlet WJHL:
“If today I said, ‘Everybody’s required to take the vaccine or you’re terminated,’ then I have a problem being able to take care of people who show up to our ER with strokes, or chest pains, or medical admissions or surgical admissions.”
Tensions flared over VCU Health’s vaccine mandate Wednesday when approximately 60 health care workers and community members staged a protest outside hospital facilities, SoVaNow reports. VCU released a statement in response:
“We are aware that not all team members support mandating the COVID-19 vaccine. We continue to provide evidence-based information to address any safety or efficacy concerns related to the available vaccines.”
In Roanoke, Carilion Clinic, with 13,000 employees, has not implemented a mandate but will provide incentives for vaccinated employees, according to the Roanoke Times. Employees vaccinated by Oct. 1 will receive a $150 bonus in their next paycheck, while unvaccinated workers will be subject to weekly testing.
Gov. Northam has not announced additional vaccine mandate guidelines, but has encouraged private companies to follow suit. After announcing the state employee mandate, he said:
“I am directing this measure to keep state employees safe and to keep the people we serve safe and I really encourage local governments and private companies to do the same thing.”