Vaccine mandate would cause staff shortage, Ballad Health CEO says

Dozens of hospitals and health systems across the country are requiring COVID-19 vaccines for all employees, but Ballad Health President and CEO Alan Levine says there are a few reasons his system isn't mandating vaccines yet, according to TV station WJHL

Ballad, a 22-hospital system based in Johnson City, Tenn., is facing a nursing shortage, and requiring workers to get vaccinated or else lose their jobs could put the system in a fragile position, according to the report. 

"If today I said, 'Everybody's required to take the vaccine or you're terminated,' then I have a problem being able to take care of people who show up to our ER with strokes, or chest pains, or medical admissions or surgical admissions," Mr. Levine told WJHL

Mr. Levine said he supports universal vaccination in hospitals and healthcare facilities and acknowledges the risks of not requiring vaccination. 

"If the delta variant hits staff and we lose staff because they're sick, or in the hospital with COVID, or they have to go home and quarantine, that's also going to affect our ability to staff," Mr. Levine told WJHL. "So I think the outlook for the next 90 to 120 days is concerning on that front."

Mr. Levine said the system is taking steps to help boost vaccination rates, including having one-on-one conversations with workers.

Thirty-eight percent of Ballad's staff remains unvaccinated, and Mr. Levine said he hopes that number will continue to drop. 

"We're gonna keep pushing, keep pushing, keep pushing, and hopefully we'll get to a place where we wouldn't have to make it mandatory," Mr. Levine told WJHL. "But if it comes to that, then we'll make whatever hard decisions we have to make." 

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