10092021 Brattleboro Retreat

The Brattleboro Retreat.

BRATTLEBORO, Vt. — Employees of the Brattleboro Retreat will soon be required to get vaccinated against COVID-19, after several patients and staff recently tested positive for the virus, the psychiatric and addiction treatment center confirmed Friday.

Spokesman Jeffrey Kelliher said the Retreat found out Tuesday that three patients and three staff members had tested positive for COVID-19.

Following that news, the Retreat tested more than 100 staff and patients, and an initial batch of testing results revealed one other employee case, but no additional patient cases, Kelliher said. Not all of the test results were back as of Friday, he noted.

The outbreak, Kelliher said, demonstrated the “need for an organization-wide mandate for COVID vaccination.” Employees are required to get their first dose by Oct. 18.

As of Friday, about 75 to 80 percent of the Retreat’s 450 staff members were already vaccinated, Kelliher said.

Anyone who doesn’t comply with the mandate is subject to termination. The Retreat, he added, is “exploring the issue of exemptions with our legal counsel.”

And while Kelliher acknowledged staffing levels may be affected by the mandate, he said “having staff vaccinated at 100 percent means we are less vulnerable to outbreaks that might require we hold admissions to the hospital.”

The Retreat serves around 45 people in its inpatient programs, according to Kelliher.

This article is being shared by a partner in The Granite State News Collaborative. For more information visit collaborativenh.org.

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