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CHI St. Vincent to require all employees to be fully vaccinated by Nov.

CHI St. Vincent announced Thursday, the regional health network will require all employees to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 1, 2021.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — CHI St. Vincent announced Thursday that the regional health network will require all employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Nov. 1, 2021, as hospitalizations continue to rise across the state.

"We just think as a community leader in healthcare it's important for us to be out there leading by example," said Chad Aduddell, CHI St. Vincent CEO.

The announcement includes physicians, Advanced Practice Providers, volunteers, and any others that care for patients within CHI St. Vincent facilities.

"As health care providers we have a responsibility to help end this pandemic and protect our patients, our colleagues and those in our communities. Requiring vaccination for our teams is critical to maintaining a safe care environment," the statement reads.

While hospital leadership says more than 70 percent of employees are already vaccinated, they understand there could be some hesitancy to get the shot, so they are working to answer any questions.

"We recognize this a very difficult and personal decision and people have questions, and so in making this we've given our self sufficient time to be able to carry on conversations down to the individual coworker," said Dr. Gerry Jones, CHI St. Vincent CMO.

CHI St. Vincent stated that despite the requirement, exemptions in regards to medical and religious reasons are available to employees who qualify.

"Throughout the pandemic, CHI St. Vincent has implemented a broad range of safety measures to be able to continue providing essential health care services to everyone in our communities, including those battling life-threatening COVID-19 infections."

The health network also requires the flu vaccine.

Arkansas has continued to see a surge in COVID-19 cases as the number of patients in hospitals reached a record high for the third day in a row on Wednesday, Aug.11. 

The record high number of people in the hospital Wednesday was 1,446 with limited ICU bed capacity for any of the patients.

"Our decision to require the COVID-19 vaccination for our teams is rooted in a commitment to keeping our community safe – and bringing an end to this pandemic as quickly as possible," said CHI St. Vincent.