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Regional Medical Center: 80 employees in COVID quarantine, enforcing employee vaccine mandate by Jan. 27

Officials say employees will be required to have at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine by the end of the month.

ORANGEBURG COUNTY, S.C. — As the nation continues to manage a surge in COVID-19 cases, hospital administrators at Regional Medical Center say close to 80 employees are currently in quarantine with the coronavirus. The hospital says it is taking steps that include an employee vaccine mandate.

"A number of people that were not in favor of it kind of expressed their opinions. You know, 'If I have to take the vaccine then I'll go find somewhere else to work,'" said Regional Medical Center President and CEO David Southerland. "What they don't realize is there's nowhere else they can work if they're working in healthcare or hospitals." 

Southerland says about 6 percent of employees are being quarantined with COVID-19. 

According to Southerland, employees will be required to have at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine by the end of the month.

"I think that's gonna create some workload issues, not only here in Orangeburg, but across other hospitals and across other hospitals in the state of South Carolina, and then also nationally," said Southerland.

Southerland says many employees have been working overtime due to others being in quarantine with the virus. The hospital has offered incentives like increased pay and competitive salaries to retain and attract new employees.

"The main thing is to try to keep people that actually live in Orangeburg, to try to get them to come back and work here at the hospital," he said.

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Additionally, Southerland says the hospital has been trying to keep up with heightened demand for COVID-19 testing at the hospital. He says over the weekend, the hospital administered about 350 COVID tests, and about 200 of those tests came back positive.

Southerland says hospital staff has been trying to keep up with the pressure, resulting in higher wait times.

“The emergency department at our hospital is really not the place to come and get vaccines or get tested for COVID," said Southerland. "They really should seek alternative locations." 

Southerland suggests patients go to local pharmacies like CVS, Walgreens, or the Regional Medical Center Express Care clinic to receive faster service coronavirus testing and vaccinations. He says this will help ease the burden of hospital employees working in the emergency room.

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