COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – Piedmont Healthcare will become the first hospital system in Georgia to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for its employees. a hospital spokesperson confirmed in a statement on Thursday.
Piedmont is requiring the vaccine for employees by Oct. 1. Last month, the hospital confirmed that all doctors, key leaders and new hires as of Sept. 1 would have to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
“We hold ourselves to the highest standard and are committed to doing whatever we can to ensure a safe and quality experience for the communities we serve,” the statement read. “For this reason, and as an organization guided by science, we confidently became the first Georgia-based health system to require COVID-19 vaccinations for team members.”
This includes Piedmont Columbus Regional and its Midtown and Northside campuses.
The news comes as Georgia is experiencing a significant rise in COVID cases and hospitalizations.
“We have seen a significant increase in the percentage of staff who’ve received their COVID-19 vaccines as we move towards full compliance, with a very small number of exceptions on religious and medical grounds,” the Piedmont statement read in part.
While Piedmont Columbus Regional is requiring employee vaccinations, the other large Columbus hospital has not made that move, yet.
St. Francis Emory CEO Melody Trimble says here nearly 2,000 employees are encouraged to get the COVID vaccine, but they have not taken the step that Piedmont has.
“Very pleased that we are supporting our team members with the strongest message possible to have them get the vaccine,” Trimble said. “We know that’s the first level of defense. I certainly appreciate and understand the position Piedmont took. We are following the guidance and science very carefully, but we are not there just yet.”
She tells WRBL that St. Francis-Emory Healthcare is carefully evaluating the research and level of COVID activity in the community.
There are 117 COVID-related patients in the two Columbus hospital systems. The majority of them are at Piedmont Columbus Regional, but the St. Francis hospitalizations have been on the rise in recent weeks.
That’s up from 64 a week ago.