MemorialCare to require vaccinations among staff

The parent company of Long Beach Memorial Medical Center is joining a number of cities, universities and some private businesses in requiring all staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19, officials announced this week.

The city of Long Beach announced late last month that healthcare workers at local hospitals would be required to show proof of vaccination status beginning Aug. 9, or be subject to testing.

Officials at MemorialCare said all staff at its health centers would be required to get the vaccine no later than Sept. 30. The company operates 225 community-based healthcare locations in the region, along with Long Beach Memorial and Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach.

“MemorialCare has been unwavering in championing vaccinations as the most effective way to end this pandemic that has taken so much from so many,” Barry Arbuckle, president & CEO of MemorialCare, said in a statement.

In Long Beach, only 5% of Miller Children’s staff and 4.7% of Memorial staff have not been vaccinated as of July 16, according to hospital officials. Hospital leadership is still reviewing options for what will happen with employees who fail to meet the Sept. 30 deadline, Dr. Graham Tse, physician in charge for COVID-19 operations, said in an email. More details will be released in the coming weeks, he added.

Arbuckle cited the alarming increases in COVID-19 admissions in recent weeks, with well over 90% of hospitalized patients being unvaccinated.

Long Beach officials reported there are 99 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 in the five facilities that serve the city. That is still much lower than during the winter months, when hospitals were caring for nearly 600 patients, but the rate of hospitalizations has steadily climbed over the past few weeks with the rise of the more contagious delta variant.

City and health officials are also concerned that just 70% of eligible adults have received at least one dose of vaccine.

Long Beach, Long Beach City College, Cal State Long Beach and other municipalities have since begun requiring the vaccine among workers, or regular testing for the virus.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with comment from Dr. Tse.

Long Beach to require health workers to be vaccinated, but not city employees

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