RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — Monument Health is joining dozens of other health care systems across the country, including Sanford Health and Avera Health, in requiring that its physicians and caregivers be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The Rapid City-based system includes five hospitals and 38 medical clinics and specialty centers. Its vaccination requirement begins Dec. 1.
“We are grateful for all of the hard work and heroism our Physicians and Caregivers have shown throughout this pandemic. We look forward to the day when COVID-19 is no longer a threat to our care teams, our patients, and our communities,” said Brad Archer, Monument's chief medical officer. “The only way to get there is through vaccination.”
Monument Health, as other health systems, will consider exemption requests for specific conditions and religious beliefs.
The highly transmissible Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus has been spreading rapidly in western South Dakota. The number of new weekly West River coronavirus cases has nearly tripled in three weeks with Monument Health treating a record number of hospitalized patients.
“Every day we see the damage that this virus does to patients,” Archer added. “As health care professionals, we owe it to our communities to do whatever we can to contain and control COVID-19. And extensive studies show that the vaccines are safe and effective.”
Monument Health said that among its hospitalized COVID-19 patients, approximately 82 percent are unvaccinated. Among those receiving ICU-level care, 91 percent are unvaccinated and among patients on ventilators, 88 percent are unvaccinated.