Wyoming hospital CEO urges staff not to leave over federal vaccination mandate

Dave Robertson, CEO of Jackson, Wyo.-based St. John's Health, is encouraging employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and urging them not to leave the organization because of federal requirements.

In a Nov. 10 public statement, which was shared with Becker's Hospital Review, Mr. Robertson said, "We are all dependent and reliant on each other as members of the St. John's team to care for our community, and our community is dependent on each of us to care for them when they need us. It is my sincere desire for us to not see anyone leave our St. John’s team as a result of this nationally mandated program. Our community is counting on us."

The public statement was in response to the CMS Omnibus COVID-19 Health Care Staff Vaccination Interim Final Rule, which requires COVID-19 vaccination for eligible staff at healthcare facilities participating in Medicare and Medicaid.

To comply with this regulation, healthcare facilities must establish a policy ensuring staff have received at least one vaccine dose by Dec. 6 and be fully vaccinated by Jan. 4. Facilities that do not comply may face fines or termination of their Medicare or Medicaid contract.

Mr. Robertson said exclusion from the Medicare and Medicaid programs would essentially result in the closure of St. John's Health — something he wants to help ensure doesn't happen.

"We remain committed to our robust COVID safety plans, which have proven very successful at keeping our hospital and facilities open and safe for patients, residents and staff. We continue to encourage testing, vaccines and adherence to public health guidance from the Teton County Health Department as a path forward through this pandemic," he said.

Mr. Robertson also wrote that he is "personally very strongly committed to the value and efficacy of vaccines," and St. John's Health is communicating to employees about mandate deadlines, the process for requesting religious and medical exemptions, and other issues related to the CMS rule.

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