United Regional issues order on vaccine mandate

Local News

WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — The United Regional Health Care System has released a statement in regards to their vaccine requirement and Governor Greg Abbott’s executive order.

The hospital originally set the vaccine requirement date on November 1 and will now delay the date to December 1.

The following is from President and CEO of United Regional Health Care System Phyllis Cowling:

As you likely are aware, Governor Greg Abbott issued an Executive Order yesterday, October 11, addressing vaccine mandates of private employers. We were surprised. Specifically, unlike similar directives in other states, and inconsistent with other existing Texas vaccine requirements, the action does not provide consideration for the unique role, responsibility, and privilege of health care organizations within the communities we serve.

As previously communicated, our decision to require all staff to be fully vaccinated was based on scientific data, thoughtful consideration, and in-depth consultation with our medical staff leadership. We continue to believe that it is our moral and ethical obligation to ensure that every patient, visitor and staff member is in the safest health care setting possible. We are also mindful of our legal responsibilities in doing so.

Our vaccine requirements, announced in early September, were designed to comply with existing state and federal laws. We will be working closely with legal counsel, the Texas Hospital Association (THA), and others to evaluate the Executive Order (as well as any subsequent legislation), better understand related implications for health care organizations, and ensure our vaccine policy continues to align with applicable laws and regulations.

Although we were planning to implement the vaccine requirement effective November 1, we will now delay implementation to no earlier than December 1, to provide necessary time to accomplish the above. Further, while we have been working diligently over the past few weeks to thoroughly review and consider medical/disability and religious-related exemption requests, with plans to communicate resulting decisions today, that too has been placed on hold.

On September 8, I acknowledged the political and cultural climate of our community, noting that feelings run strong on both sides of the vaccine divide. We certainly have all witnessed that divide over the past six (6) weeks. With that in mind, I appreciate your courage, commitment and resolve – as members of the United Regional team – in continuing to focus, instead, on that which unites us: excellent care and caring for those we are privileged to serve.

President and CEO of United Regional Health Care System Phyllis Cowling

United Regional announced the vaccine requirement on Sept. 8.

Monday, Governor Abbott signed executive order GA-40 prohibiting vaccine mandates.

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