United Regional to require COVID-19 vaccines of all employees, providers

WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Officials with United Regional Healthcare System Wednesday afternoon announced they will begin requiring the COVID-19 vaccine for all staff members and providers.

Beginning November 1, employees and medical staff members, including temps, travelers, locum tenens, students and certain contracted services must show confirmation of full vaccination, as defined unless they have an approved medical condition or disability or religious exemption or qualify for a 6-month deferral due to recently testing positive for COVID-19.

“This was a very difficult decision,” Phyllis Cowling, President and CEO of United Regional said. “I recognize the political and cultural climate of our community, and I realize that feelings run strong on both sides of the vaccine divide.”

After November 1, unvaccinated staff without either an approved exemption or a reported vaccine deferral, will not be allowed to work.

All staff, regardless of vaccination status, will still be required to wear masks in United Regional facilities; however, those who are unvaccinated due to an approved exemption or deferral will be required to wear an N95 mask, submit to weekly regular testing, and ensure social distancing at all times (including when eating or drinking without a mask).

Officials said as of September 7, United Regional had 100 COVID patients in-house, very close to the high-water mark in late December.

The vast majority of hospitalized COVID patients are unvaccinated. United Regional continues to be full in critical care and unable to accept critical transfers from the region.

On the outgoing end of transfers, multiple children’s hospitals, including Cook Children’s, are likewise overwhelmed, leaving United Regional to care for pediatric patients and newborns that would otherwise transfer out.

Please find the full press release from United Regional below:

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