MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Baptist Memorial Health Care will require all employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine by Nov. 1.
“After much consideration and discussion, our leadership team believes this is the best decision for our employees, patients and community,” said Baptist Memorial Health Care President and CEO Jason Little. “With the growing threat of COVID-19 variants and our duty to provide a safe environment for vulnerable patients, a COVID-19 vaccine requirement for our employees is the responsible and right thing to do.”
About 60% of Baptist’s 19,000-plus employees in Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee are vaccinated, which is comparable to other Memphis-area hospitals.
“As health care providers, we have seen firsthand the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine in preventing severe illness and hospitalizations,” said Little. “We are taking every reasonable precaution to protect our courageous employees who are exposed to this virus daily.”
The overwhelming majority of Baptist’s hospitalized COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated.
“As health care providers, it’s important that we set the example and take the lead in protecting our community,” said Little.
Baptist will have a process in place for employees who cannot get the vaccine for health and other reasons, similar to the process Baptist follows for the flu vaccine requirement.
Baptist Memorial Health Care is one of the country’s largest not-for-profit health care systems and the largest provider of Medicaid in the region. Baptist offers a full continuum of care to communities throughout the Mid-South and consistently ranks among the top integrated health care networks in the nation. The health care system comprises 22 affiliate hospitals in West Tennessee, Mississippi and East Arkansas; more than 5,400 affiliated physicians; Baptist Medical Group, a multispecialty physician group with more than 800 providers; home, hospice and psychiatric care; minor medical centers and clinics; a network of surgery, rehabilitation and other outpatient centers; and an education system highlighted by Baptist Health Sciences University (formerly Baptist College of Health Sciences). The Baptist system employs more than 19,000 people, and in fiscal year 2019 contributed more than $336 million in community benefit and uncompensated care to the communities it serves.
Baptist joins other Memphis hospitals requiring employees to get vaccinated, St. Jude, Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare and the VA. St. Francis Memphis and St. Francis Bartlett still do not have a vaccine mandate.