MURRELLS INLET, S.C. (WBTW) — Tidelands Health is taking an extra step in the fight against COVID-19 with a vaccine mandate.

The deadline for the employees to get vaccinated ended at 11:59 Tuesday night. Out of 2,010 employees, only one employee didn’t comply with the mandate. By the deadline, employees either had to provide proof of vaccination or a medical exemption.

“We can’t afford for our workforce to even get [COVID] in the community,” said Gayle Resetar, the chief operating officer of Tidelands Health. “We have to keep people available to take care of the patients in the community.”

Tidelands notified employees of the vaccine mandate in July and the majority of employees complied.

“We have a couple that resigned in advance and one that failed to comply with the policy and will be terminated,” Resetar said.

Kelly Bouthillet, president of the South Carolina Nurses Association, said the association fully endorses COVID-19 vaccine mandates for health care workers.

“Unfortunately South Carolina’s going in the wrong direction,” Bouthillet said. “Nurses are afraid of contracting COVID most nurses believe that the vaccine is a critical tool in our toolbox in preventing the spread of COVID,” Bouthillet said.

Resetar said the mandate will leave some patients a little more at ease and will encourage more nurses to work at Tidelands Health.

“The highest risk for employees is community exposure so, if we can curtail some of that, so that those employees are safe and they can take care of the community that’s what our job is,” she said.

Resetar hopes united front of the COVID-19 vaccine will also be reflected in the community.

According to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, 57.8% of eligible South Carolina residents have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 48.8% have completed vaccination.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify that medical exemptions were also allowed as part of the hospital’s mandate, and that all employees have complied with that mandate.