JONESBORO, Ark. – St. Bernards Healthcare announced Thursday it will require all its employees have a fully-vaccinated status against COVID-19 by November 1, 2021 with all members of its leadership team fully vaccinated one month prior by October 1.
The not-for-profit healthcare system made the announcement after offering the vaccine since December and providing individual incentives and education to every employee who received the vaccine. To date, St. Bernards has invested more than $1 million in vaccination incentives. It also recently began offering the COVID vaccine seven days a week using a combination of six physician clinics.
St. Bernards President and CEO Chris Barber said the organization must take every effort to protect the health of patients, visitors and employees alike. He said more than 70 percent of St. Bernards employees have received the vaccine.
“The vaccines work, they’re safe and they’re highly effective at preventing serious disease and COVID-19 hospitalizations,” Barber said. “With hospitals across the state challenged to provide more patient beds, the vaccine remains our best tool to meet our community’s evolving and growing needs.”
Barber said healthcare providers have a duty to lead public health initiatives—including vaccination efforts—by example.
“Vaccinating against COVID-19 is the single-greatest, most-pressing health initiative in recent years, and we all must do our part,” Barber said. “Quite simply, our patients should not wonder whether they receive care from an unvaccinated person.”
Barber added that St. Bernards will make exceptions among employees who cannot receive the vaccine for documented health reasons or specific religious objections.
All new employees hired after October 1, 2021 must have a fully-vaccinated status within 30 days. Nevertheless, Barber said St. Bernards will continue offering employee vaccination incentives for the foreseeable future.
For more information on the COVID-19 vaccine itself as well as where St. Bernards offers vaccinations, visit https://www.stbernards.info/COVID-19 or call the St. Bernards Healthline at (870) 207-7300.
St. Bernards Healthcare, a non-profit healthcare system based in Northeast Arkansas, serves as the corporate parent of a number of healthcare entities, including the largest hospital in the region, St. Bernards Medical Center, a 440-bed acute care hospital that serves as a regional referral center for 23 counties in Northeast Arkansas and Southeast Missouri. It is the only Level III Trauma Center in the region, houses the only Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in the eastern part of Arkansas and has served as the trusted provider of comprehensive, compassionate healthcare services for more than 120 years. For more information, please visit stbernards.info or call the St. Bernards Healthline at 870.207.7300.