Hospitals share plans on vaccination mandate for health workers

TAMPA, Fla. — The Supreme Court allows the Biden administration to move forward with a vaccination mandate for most health care workers. The Florida Hospital Association, along with public health experts, weighed in on the impact of balancing that mandate, while local hospitals shared how they plan to handle it.

The mandate applies to providers who receive federal Medicare or Medicaid funding, though the rule has medical and religious exemptions. According to the White House, it will cover 10.4 million healthcare workers in 76,000 medical facilities.

“I’m not surprised it’s been confirmed,” said Mary Mayhew, president and CEO of the Florida Hospital Association. “I hope CMS will work with hospitals and other providers at a time when we have one of the worst labor shortages hospitals have seen in decades.”

Mayhew said it’s critically important to balance this infection control priority of vaccines with the need to ensure timely access to care, which she says depends on staffing.

“We are optimistic that hospitals can work with their staff either to get vaccinated or to work with them on the exemptions allowed by the CMS. Our goal is to make sure we don’t lose any staff to this,” Mayhew said. “We cannot afford to lose healthcare personnel given the current labor shortages and demands on our hospitals.”

The governor’s office provided ABC Action News with the following statement when asked about the application of this mandate in Florida:
“We are thrilled that the Supreme Court rightly recognized Administrator Biden’s overreach in trying to mandate vaccines through OSHA. Florida’s ban on vaccination mandates remains in effect for all industries, we will assess next steps for enforcement in the coming dayssaid Taryn Fenske, director of communications for Governor DeSantis.

“There’s a state law that says you can’t mandate, and if you do, you can be fined $10,000 to $50,000 per employee, and federal law says that if you don’t, you may be subject to millions of dollars being withheld from your reimbursement,” said Dr. Jay Wolfson, professor emeritus of public health, medicine, and pharmacy at USF Health.

Wolfson explained how hospitals could manage it all and find balance for an already stressed system.

“What’s probably going to happen is the health care institutions are going to say there’s a legitimate basis in Florida law and federal law where you can get an exemption, go fill out the form, go fill out the medical exemption form and say, ‘I got a medical exemption,’ or ‘I have a religious reason,’ give it back, and we’ll work on it,” Wolfson said.

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ABC Action News checked in with local hospitals in the Tampa Bay area to see how they are handling the warrant.

The Sarasota Memorial sent the following statement:
“We are moving forward with our vaccination policy to protect the safety of our patients, our staff and to remain in compliance with federal regulations. We are working with guidance provided by CMS in December – that all staff have received at least one dose by January 27 (or have a pending/approved request for a waiver or temporary delay as recommended by CDC) and 100% compliance with all rule parameters by February 28. We have heard that there may be further indications of these dates. We are pleased to report that at least 86% of our employees are vaccinated. We will continue to work 1-on-1 with our unvaccinated staff members to stay in compliance with federal rules. »

Bayfront Health St. Petersburg sent the following statement:
“Bayfront Health St. Petersburg continues to review guidance regarding COVID-19 vaccination requirements for healthcare organizations and will take appropriate action. As a healthcare organization, we continue to strongly encourage vaccinations for all team members and physicians at Bayfront Health St. Petersburg.

BayCare sent the following statement:
“The good news is that 80% of BayCare team members are vaccinated and protected against the worst impacts of COVID-19. Now that the nation’s highest court has lifted the injunction on the vaccination mandate for healthcare workers from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, BayCare will be working over the next few days to review the decision and its relationship to the laws of Florida vaccination to fully understand the impact on our unvaccinated healthcare workers.

Johns Hopkins All Children’s sent the following statement:
“99% of Johns Hopkins healthcare system is fully immunized and 1% meets religious and medical exemptions.

Since September, we have required vaccinations for employees. The Supreme Court ruling restored the federal vaccination mandate for healthcare workers, and we will comply with it. »

HCA Healthcare-West Florida Division sent the following statement:
“At this time, we are still reviewing the details of the decision and will share the details with our carers over the next few days. HCA Healthcare West Florida Division hospitals have always encouraged colleagues to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and have made vaccines readily available. The majority of our colleagues have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or have been approved for vaccine exemption for medical or religious reasons. Given the recent Supreme Court decision, we will implement, in accordance with the rules of the CMS mandate, the obligation to vaccinate our healthcare workers who are covered by this policy unless they are eligible for a exemption. If we fail to comply with CMS’s mandate, we could compromise our ability to serve our communities and provide patient care under the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

AdventHealth sent the following statement:
“Based on scientific evidence and what we see every day in our hospitals, COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective in reducing both the risk of infection and the level of harm should an infection break through. As part of our commitment to protecting the health and well-being of our team members, patients and communities, we strongly encourage all members of our team to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. members of our team comply with the CMS vaccination mandate. We intend to comply with legal requirements and continue to monitor developments impacting its application.”

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