COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — Over the summer Atlanta-based Piedmont Healthcare became the first hospital system in Georgia to require COVID-19 vaccines for its employees.
Oct. 1 was the deadline for those Piedmont employees – including the nearly 4,000 here in Columbus at two hospitals and multiple clinics – to have proof of vaccination.
A Piedmont Columbus Regional spokeswoman told News 3 that the impact of the vaccine mandate has been “minimal.”
Here was the statement Piedmont sent to WRBL when we requested an interview on the deadline:
“The number of full-time employees who will not be fully vaccinated by the deadline was minimal and, therefore, there was no impact on our operations,” the Piedmont Columbus Regional statement read in part.
Piedmont is the only local hospital system to require the vaccine. St. Francis-Emory Healthcare has strongly encouraged its nearly 3,000 employees to get the COVID vaccine but has stopped short of mandating it.
“At Piedmont, we hold ourselves to the highest standard and are committed to doing whatever we can to ensure a safe and quality experience for our employees and the communities we serve, which, in this case, meant enforcing a requirement that our workforce is vaccinated against COVID-19,” the statement read.
In an interview with WRBL five weeks ago, Piedmont CEO Scott Hill shared a newspaper clipping he keeps on his desk to reaffirm the system’s decision to mandate the vaccine.
Scott Hill/CEO Piedmont Columbus Regional
“It is a very simple message at the top and it says, ‘Thank you, sir, for caring about your employees and our community. And thank you to the board of directors.’ For me, this is the person we are caring for in this community. This is the person that will need our help eventually. And when they come here, if all of our staff is vaccinated, they stand less of a chance of contracting the COVID-19 virus here than anyplace else in the city.”
The vaccine became a requirement for all Piedmont employees Friday, but managers and physicians were required to have the shot by Sept. 1st. A Piedmont spokesman has previously said there was no local impact because of that mandate.
Piedmont has 28,000 employees statewide at 16 hospitals and other healthcare entities.