Messenger: South City Hospital bucks trend, won’t require COVID-19 vaccines for health care workers | Tony Messenger

Messenger: South City Hospital bucks trend, won’t require COVID-19 vaccines for health care workers | Tony Messenger

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Over the next month, nurses and other health care professionals who for one reason or another don’t want to get vaccinated will be fired from their jobs at Mercy, BJC and other local hospitals. More than 20 national hospital chains have adopted a similar philosophy. South City, on the other hand, is following the lead of some rural hospitals in Missouri, in areas with low-vaccination rates, where they are actually using their lack of a mandate as a recruitment tool.

The result is that the population South City Hospital serves — generally high in poverty and in an area of the city where vaccination rates have been low, particularly among African Americans — will be entering a hospital where the health care workers may or may not be vaccinated.

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At least some employees at South City Hospital, who spoke with me on condition of anonymity, are concerned about this policy. But not all of them. One woman who works there, who said she is vaccinated, said she agrees with the philosophy and hopes the hospital uses it to recruit employees.

“It’s a personal choice,” she says.

The patients who come to South City Hospital, however, often have no choice in where they seek health care. Many of them are uninsured, or they come to the emergency room because of addiction issues or other mental health issues. This population in St. Louis will remain at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 because one hospital won’t follow the lead of the others.

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