Lowcountry SC Health Center Demands COVID Vaccine for Staff


Beaufort Jasper Hampton Comprehensive Health Services has implemented a new COVID-19 vaccine mandate for employees.

The organization’s board approved the policy in a vote on Thursday evening, said Dr Faith Polkey, Acting Chief Medical Officer.

“We have to be on the front lines. We must lead by example, ”said Roland gardner, CEO of BJHCHS, a federally qualified health center that treats underserved residents in the Lowcountry.

The policy, Polkey said, will protect staff members and patients.

“We have such a vulnerable patient population, with all types of comorbidities,” she said. “We wanted to make sure (there is) a safe place for them to come. “

BJHCHS employees must now receive a single-dose vaccine or the first dose of a two-dose vaccine by September 13.

They must be fully vaccinated by October 18.

“Failure to follow this policy will result in immediate suspension without pay and other disciplinary action up to and including termination,” the policy says.

However, the mandate includes medical and religious exemptions.

People exempted from the requirement must be tested for COVID-19 once a week when there is a “significant” spread of the coronavirus in the community, according to Polkey and the policy. “The cost of the test is the responsibility of the employee,” the policy says.

Exempt and unvaccinated staff members are also required to wear K-N95 or N-95 masks at work.

Vaccination mandates are increasingly common in care settings across the United States, but these requirements are still controversial for many Americans.

However, there has not been a major setback against the BJHCHS requirement, Gardner said.

Most of the organization’s roughly 300 employees had already been vaccinated before the policy was approved, Polkey said.

As of Friday morning, there were only about 45 hold-ups of vaccines, she said.

BJHCHS leadership has discussed the need for a warrant over the past two weeks, Gardner said, amid a wave of local COVID-19 cases.

The super contagious delta variant, which was discovered in India late last year, led to the recent surge in coronavirus infections, exploiting South Carolina low vaccination rate, say health officials.

The seven-day average of new confirmed COVID-19 cases in Beaufort County, for example, reached 141 infections per day on Friday, approaching a record high.

The county also broke its single-day case record on Friday, with 235 confirmed infections.

According to the US Census Bureau and the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control, only 44.1% of the population of Beaufort County has been completely inoculated.

“It was just obvious to us,” Gardner said of his organization’s new vaccine mandate. ” We had to do something. “

Note: The data for its history is current as of Friday afternoon.

The Battery Creek High School gymnasium was transformed into a vaccination center on Thursday, March 11, 2021 for Beaufort County school district employees to receive their first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Beaufort Memorial Hospital would be in high school for about five hours to vaccinate school district employees. Drawn Martin [email protected]

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Sam Ogozalek is a reporter for The Island Packet and covers COVID-19 recovery efforts. He is also a member of the Report for America Corps. He is a recent graduate of Syracuse University and has written for the Tampa Bay Times, The Buffalo News, and the Naples Daily News.

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