Iowa hospital cited for insufficient staff vaccine records

Sioux City, Iowa-based MercyOne Siouxland Medical Center was cited for failing to develop and implement a system to track staff's COVID-19 vaccinations and exemptions, according to Iowa Department of Inspection and Appeals obtained by the Sioux City Journal

CMS performed a complaint survey at the hospital from May 19-26, the Journal reported. The hospital's tracking documents showed that 142 physicians and licensed practitioners had signed an attestation document regarding their vaccination status. 

If a provider signed the form, hospital staff would not know if they had received the vaccine or an exemption, nor who approved the exemption or if it fit the hospital's requirements at all, according to the department's documents. This could prevent staff from enforcing additional safety precautions for unvaccinated providers. 

The medical center was ordered to correct the error by maintaining a vaccination versus exemption status report for all providers and obtaining proof of vaccination or exemption status, according to the Journal. The medical affairs coordinator must monitor the report for six months to guarantee full compliance. 

Before the CMS regulation was applied to Iowa facilities, MercyOne Siouxland permitted non-employed providers who have privileges at the medical center to attest to their vaccination or approved exemption status, a MercyOne spokesperson told Becker's in a statement. 

The Iowa General Assembly then passed a law regarding vaccination verification procedures, based on the CMS' interim vaccination regulations for hospital staff. The CMS regulation was challenged in nationwide lawsuits, according to the MercyOne spokesperson. 

"Following the conclusion of those lawsuits and the application of the CMS regulations to Iowa hospitals in February 2022, we undertook an analysis of how to appropriately implement the CMS requirements going forward for our independent (non-employed providers)," the spokesperson said. "Today, these providers must provide a copy of the vaccination card, a religious exemption or a medical exemption signed by the provider's physician."

MercyOne Siouxland is in full compliance with CMS standards, the spokesperson told Becker's

The health system is based in Des Moines, Iowa.

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