How the federal vaccination mandate has unfolded at rural hospitals

A number of rural hospitals have averted a mass exodus of workers in the wake of the federal COVID-19 vaccination requirement, according to Politico.

That's based on input from nearly two dozen rural hospital officials and state hospital association leaders, who told the publication they have lost only a fraction of their workers to the requirement.

"There was certainly a worst-case scenario that was, quite frankly, scary, and I'm just glad that didn’t come to pass," said Brian Tabor, president of the Indiana Hospital Association.

The CMS rule, which the Supreme Court upheld Jan. 13, requires healthcare facilities to establish a policy ensuring eligible workers are fully vaccinated, with exemptions allowed based on religious beliefs or recognized medical conditions. Some states have different deadlines for the rule than others based on the Supreme Court decision and a federal court decision to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the state of Texas. 

Winchester, Va.-based Valley Health reported losing less than 3 percent of its staff, Politico reported, while Clark Fork Valley Hospital in Plains, Mont., reported losing 1 percent. St. Luke Community Healthcare in Ronan, Mont., reported losing three employees.

Hospitals in other states have also seen a fraction of their workers depart for noncompliance with vaccination policies.

At the same time, hospitals in the U.S. continue to face staffing shortages as many workers have left their roles for various reasons, including retirement and burnout.

Some hospital leaders told Politico they were able to maintain adequate staffing levels in part because medical and religious exemptions were afforded.

Some rural hospital officials who implemented mandates before the federal requirement also noted that doing so allowed for more time to educate workers about the shots.

To read the full Politico report, click here

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