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Coronavirus Health Care News Sussex County

Faced with federal mandate, Beebe requires employee vaccinations

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Beebe Healthcare announced it will be complying with the federal mandate and requiring vaccines for more than 2,000 employees. | PHOTO COURTESY OF BEEBE HEALTHCARE

LEWES — Beebe Healthcare announced it will end its vaccine-or-test policy and require all its workers to receive the vaccine come Dec. 24.

The health care system made the announcement within 24 hours after President Joe Biden made it clear that healthcare workers who work at facilities funded by Medicare or Medicaid must be vaccinated by Jan. 4. Unlike regulations set for private employers, health care workers have no testing option.

Beebe Healthcare has roughly 2,850 employees in Sussex County and is the fourth largest hospital system in Delaware. However, Beebe would require contractors and vendors to be vaccinated by Christmas as well.

“Beebe Healthcare’s policies and procedures have aligned with state and federal health guidelines throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. That will not change. We firmly stand behind the science of the COVID vaccine,” Beebe spokesman Ryan Marshall told the Delaware Business Times yesterday.

In late September, Beebe Healthcare made waves after its CEO David Tam told people during a town hall event that there was no vaccine mandate at the time and it was still waiting on federal guidelines. After much controversy, Tam wrote a column that said he “made the decision to not lay down a termination ultimatum at the time.”

By Oct. 1, Beebe required its staff to be vaccinated or produce a negative test result, per state regulations. The health care system declined to disclose the vaccination rate, citing the privacy of its employees. But at the time, Tam told the Delaware Business Times  that it was “higher than the percentage of those 18 and older who are vaccinated in Delaware,” which was 65%.

Today, that percentage of Delawareans who have received one shot is 82% and Beebe maintains that its vaccination rate is higher than that amount.

Beebe is one of three health care systems in the state that has not issued a hardline vaccine policy in the last three months, along with TidalHealth Nanticoke and Bayhealth. The three hospital systems comprised 9,000 employees.

Bayhealth has not returned an immediate request for comment, and TidalHealth officials told DBT it would review and discuss the policy internally early next week.

ChristianaCare, Nemours Children’s Health and Trinity Health all made heavy pushes toward vaccination. ChristianaCare, the largest private employer in the state, terminated 150 employees by late September.

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