PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, some Northwest Florida hospitals are changing policies to keep their employees and community safe.
By Nov. 12, all associates at Ascension Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
This includes employees who don’t work in the medical field and off-site employees.
Ascension said the decision was made to protect patents, employees and the community as COVID-19 cases continue to rise and new variants emerge.
The latest numbers from the Florida Department of Health show COVID-19 cases have nearly doubled in Escambia County in the last week compared to the week before, which could have sparked the mandate from Ascension.
Hospitalizations have also doubled within the last week. Last Monday, there were 63 hospitalizations in Escambia County.
Wednesday, there were 131 reported.
Other area hospitals, including Baptist Hospital, West Florida Hospital, Fort Walton Beach Medical Center and Santa Rosa Medical Center say they are not requiring the vaccine for their employees but are strongly recommending it.
Santa Rosa Medical Center has recently changed its visitor policy to one visitor per patient in response to the COVID-19 case spike.
Local, state and federal officials continue push the importance of getting the vaccine.
Northwest Florida hospitals released the following statements when asked if they would be mandating vaccines for employees.
Baptist Hospital: We don’t have a change in policy at this time, but we continue to evaluate measures and are in communication with health care systems across the state. We continuously evaluate and implement practices that are shown to enhance and protect the health and wellbeing of our community as the COVID-19 situation evolves. We encourage our team members and community to review credible sources to dispel the prevalent misinformation that is deterring people from getting life-saving vaccinations.
West Florida Hospital: While colleagues at West Florida Hospital are not required to be vaccinated for COVID-19, our infectious disease experts as well as those at the CDC, are strongly encouraging vaccination as a critical step to protect individuals from the virus. At time, our hospital follows guidance outlined by the CDC regarding protocols for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals in our facilities, including universal masking for all colleagues, patients and visitors.
Santa Rosa Medical Center:
Our hospital remains consistent in following CDC guidelines which do not require healthcare providers to be vaccinated but do require masking of all providers and individuals in a healthcare setting. Currently, while Santa Rosa Medical Center has not made the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory, many of our caregivers have chosen and are continuing to choose to be vaccinated. We continue to educate our employees and encourage vaccination to fight against COVID-19.
Fort Walton Beach Medical Center: While colleagues are not required to be vaccinated for COVID-19, our infectious disease experts as well as those at the CDC, are strongly encouraging vaccination as a critical step to protect individuals from the virus. Our hospital follows guidance outlined by the CDC regarding protocols for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals in our facilities, including universal masking for all colleagues, patients and visitors.