United Regional delays vaccine requirement to no earlier than Dec. 1

United Regional to require all employees, providers to be vaccinated
United Regional to require all employees, providers to be vaccinated
Published: Oct. 12, 2021 at 6:41 PM CDT
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - In response to Gov. Abbott’s executive order, United Regional has delayed the start date for their vaccine mandate from Nov. 1 to no earlier than Dec. 1.

United Regional President and CEO Phyllis Cowling has released an additional statement on Gov. Abbott’s vaccine mandate, which can be found below:

“As you likely are aware, Governor Greg Abbott issued an Executive Order yesterday, October 11, addressing vaccine mandates of private employers. We were surprised. Specifically, unlike similar directives in other states, and inconsistent with other existing Texas vaccine requirements, the action does not provide consideration for the unique role, responsibility, and privilege of health care organizations within the communities we serve.

As previously communicated, our decision to require all staff to be fully vaccinated was based on scientific data, thoughtful consideration, and in-depth consultation with our medical staff leadership. We continue to believe that it is our moral and ethical obligation to ensure that every patient, visitor and staff member is in the safest health care setting possible. We are also mindful of our legal responsibilities in doing so.

Our vaccine requirements, announced in early September, were designed to comply with existing state and federal laws. We will be working closely with legal counsel, the Texas Hospital Association (THA), and others to evaluate the Executive Order (as well as any subsequent legislation), better understand related implications for health care organizations, and ensure our vaccine policy continues to align with applicable laws and regulations.

Although we were planning to implement the vaccine requirement effective November 1, we will now delay implementation to no earlier than December 1, to provide necessary time to accomplish the above. Further, while we have been working diligently over the past few weeks to thoroughly review and consider medical/disability and religious-related exemption requests, with plans to communicate resulting decisions today, that too has been placed on hold.

On September 8, I acknowledged the political and cultural climate of our community, noting that feelings run strong on both sides of the vaccine divide. We certainly have all witnessed that divide over the past six (6) weeks. With that in mind, I appreciate your courage, commitment and resolve – as members of the United Regional team – in continuing to focus, instead, on that which unites us: excellent care and caring for those we are privileged to serve.”

Gov. Abbott’s executive order bans any entity in Texas, which includes private businesses, from requiring vaccinations for employees or customers.

United Regional issued their vaccine mandate for employees and providers in early September, requiring them to be vaccinated or partially vaccinated by Nov. 1. After that, unvaccinated staff without either an approved exemption or a reported vaccine deferral would not be allowed to work.

Dozens of people flooded the sidewalks at United Regional on Sept. 30 in protest of the hospital’s mandate.

Gov. Abbott’s executive order can be found here.

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