WINCHESTER — Valley Health is pleased to announce that since adding the Covid-19 vaccine to the list of required vaccinations for physicians and staff, 97 percent of employees have chosen to receive the vaccine by the Sept. 7 deadline or have received an approved exemption. 

“I am extremely proud of our team members’ commitment to the safety of our patients, fellow caregivers and community,” said Mark Nantz, president and CEO of Valley Health.

Valley Health was among the 1st health systems in the nation to add Covid vaccination to the list of required vaccinations for staff. Since the announcement, over 60 medical associations, including the American Hospital Association, have endorsed required vaccination for healthcare workers. 

“While vaccinated individuals can still contract Covid, unvaccinated individuals are more likely to be hospitalized and 11 times more likely to die from the virus. With the arrival of the more transmissable Delta variant in our region, it became clear that requiring vaccination was the most responsible course of action for ensuring the safety of our patients and staff,” Nantz noted. 

“While we celebrate this successful transition to our new safety standard, there are still concerning developments with regard to the prevalence of Covid in our community. In recent weeks, we have seen a dramatic spike in Covid cases in our region due to the growing presence of the highly contagious Delta variant. The rising Covid patient census continues to strain resources at our hospitals, physician offices, urgent care centers and other patient care locations. And to further underscore the importance of vaccination, we must note that the vast majority of the Covid-positive patients in our ICU are either unvaccinated or have not completed their vaccination series,” added Nantz.

With hospitalizations at rates not seen since last winter and a growing number of staff members on quarantine due to exposure, Valley Health caregivers are once again on the front lines of this pandemic. 

Dr. Iyad Sabbagh, Chief Physician Executive at Valley Health, urges community members to take the necessary precautions to stop the spread of Covid. 

“This pandemic is not over yet. On behalf of our entire team of physicians, nurses and staff members, we are asking the public to take the necessary precautions against this virus including getting your Covid vaccine as soon as possible and to follow masking, distancing and hand washing guidelines,” Sabbagh said. “These simple actions are imperative for limiting the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant and protecting our dedicated healthcare workers on the front lines.”

Valley Health reminds the community that if you are concerned about a possible Covid exposure or illness, contact your primary care provider or visit an Urgent Care center. If you are having a medical emergency, please call 911 or visit the nearest Emergency Department. Please note that the Emergency Department is not the appropriate setting for asymptomatic Covid testing or return-to-work testing following exposure and/or quarantine. 

For more information on how to obtain a vaccine, visit www.valleyhealthlink.com/vaccine. 

Valley Health is a nonprofit health system serving a population of more than 500,000 in the Northern Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, the Eastern Panhandle and the Potomac Highlands of West Virginia and western Maryland. As a healthcare provider, employer and community partner, Valley Health is committed to improving the health of the region. The system includes 6 hospitals, more than 60 medical practices and Urgent Care centers, outpatient rehabilitation and fitness, medical transport, long-term care and home health. o

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