As one of the first healthcare providers in the country to enforce a vaccine mandate, Sanford Health says it’s now beginning to see some positive effects of having the majority of its employees vaccinated.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Chris Meeker says the high employee vaccination rate has led to a decline in COVID-19 cases.

Employees are able to request exemptions for medical or religious reasons but will be subject to regular testing.

Out of the 3,800 employees in the Bismarck region, 16 have now been placed on suspension.

In a statement, Meeker said: “Employees who don’t have an approved exemption or haven’t started their vaccine series by today will be suspended for up to 60 days without pay and removed from the work schedule. Continued failure to comply with the COVID-19 vaccine requirements within 60 days will result in the [sic] employee being considered to have voluntarily resigned from their employment.

Sanford Health is waiting for official OSHA regulations to determine the testing type and frequency before testing its employees.