More healthcare systems in South Florida implement COVID vaccine mandates

Baptist Health South Florida and Memorial Healthcare System issue October deadlines for COVID vaccine

MIAMI – Baptist Health South Florida in Miami-Dade County and the Memorial Healthcare System in Broward County joined the growing list of organizations that are implementing vaccine mandates.

Aurelio Fernandez, the president and chief executive officer of the Memorial Healthcare System, said the new policy is part of the ongoing effort to maintain a safe environment not only in the hospitals but also in the community at large.

“We have to stop the spread of this virus and the only way we know how to do it is by being vaccinated,” Fernandez said in a pre-recorded video. “Please do your part.”

Memorial estimates about 39% of workers are unvaccinated and set an Oct. 1 deadline with a $150 bonus program individual incentive and an additional $100 individual incentive if a group is vaccinated. Jackson Health System’s deadline is Sept. 30 and the incentive program is $150. Baptist has an Oct. 31st deadline. Unvaccinated employees will face restrictions.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Medical Association, the American Nursing Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics support nationwide vaccine mandates at healthcare systems.

Hospitals are also implementing other measures to deal with the surge. The Memorial system started to postpone elective procedures on Aug. 5. The Mount Sinai Medical Center issued an update on July 30th, allowing only one visitor per patient at the emergency centers in Miami Beach, Aventura, and Hialeah. Any visitor exceptions are restricted to adults who have been screened for COVID.

“It’s really day by day and we watch very carefully to make sure that we have the resources available to serve our community and every hospital in South Florida is like this,” said Dr. Robert Goldszer, the chief medical officer at Mount Sinai Medical Center.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the CDC considered the transmissibility of the coronavirus in Miami-Dade and Broward counties and the neighboring Monroe and Palm Beach counties as high. Goldszer said it’s important to educate the community on the safety of the vaccines available.

“I try daily in any way I can, so that if anybody is not vaccinated ... please to get them vaccinated,” Godszer said.

County-level pandemic data

CountyLevel of community
Total population with
at least 1 dose of the vaccine
COVID-related deaths
on record
Palm BeachHigh61.2%2,883

Source: CDC Tracker, COVID data as of Aug. 15 (Influence of COVID vaccine tourism is unclear)

Related story: This Week In South Florida

Broward County is the nation's epicenter of hospital admissions for COVID-19, a grim distinction, while Miami-Dade County is third.

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Local 10 News Assignment Desk Editor Emily Hales contributed to this report.

About the Authors:

Glenna Milberg joined Local 10 News in September 1999 to report on South Florida's top stories and community issues. She also serves as co-host on Local 10's public affairs broadcast, "This Week in South Florida."

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.