EMH mandates employees to be vaccinated, changes visitor policy

As the number of COVID-19 cases climb in Boyle County, Ephraim McDowell Health is taking extra steps to help keep the virus at bay within its healthcare system and in the communities that it serves.

“Ephraim McDowell Health is seeing an increase of COVID-19 hospitalizations,” according to a letter sent to The Advocate-Messenger from Daniel McKay, president and CEO for EMH. “Things looked hopeful just a month ago after a large number of people received the COVID-19 vaccination. But this Delta variant began raging and is now targeting mainly those individuals who have not been vaccinated.”

Therefore, McKay added, EMH is now requiring a COVID-19 vaccine for all employees, medical staff, students and volunteers.

He said for those who are not vaccinated, they need to get their first dose by Sept. 1.

McKay added, “Ephraim Health must ensure the health and safety of not only those providing medical care but also those seeking it.”

And beginning Aug. 12, only one designated visitor will be allowed to be with a patient from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Up until then, two visitors had been allowed.

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According to Executive Director of Clinical Effectiveness Jason Dean, Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center had just one or two patients in the COVID unit during May and June.

But beginning in mid July they started seeing an increase in COVID patients coming into the emergency department.

As of Aug. 11 “We currently have 25 COVID hospitalized patients” and six were on ventilators. Dean added, “Over 90% of our current patients are unvaccinated.” And one or two patients, on average, had been vaccinated.

According to the COVID-19 Current Incidence Rate map from the Kentucky Department for Public Health, as of Aug. 10, Boyle County had an average of 46.6 daily cases per 100,000 people, a positivity rate of 10.2%, 3,761 current cases and 80 deaths to date.

The county government is also stepping up once again to help battle the pandemic. During its regular meeting Tuesday morning, Magistrate Tom Ellis suggested the court “adopt a resolution for all citizens of Boyle County to get vaccinated.” His motion was seconded by Magistrate Jamey Gay.

“I can’t say this firmly enough – everybody needs to get vaccinated, and that’s extremely important … for your health and the community’s health. That’s the best defense.”

VACCINATION CLINICS

• Adults — EMH walk-in clinic is open on Thursdays for individuals age 18 and older at the Boyle County Extension Office, located at 99 Corporate Drive. Times are:

Aug. 12 – 1-5 p.,m.

Aug. 19 – 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Aug. 26 – 1 to 5 p.m.

Sept. 2 – 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Sept. 9 – 1 to 5 p.m.

• Children — Boyle County Health Department is taking appointments for children ages 12-17 for the Pfizer vaccine to be administered on Monday, Aug. 16 from 3-5 p.m. Sign up at https://bit.ly/3fTPwA5