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Hospital workforce shortage ramping up as COVID vaccine mandates go into effect

There’s been growing concern among hospital administrators across the U.S. as some lean in to mandating the COVID vaccine among staff and workers. In New York, the state recently required that workers at all hospital and medical facilities get the vaccine by late-September. Following that announcement, two major hospital chains announced that they would terminate any employees who did not comply with the order and prove that they had been vaccinated against COVID-19.

In other parts of the U.S. hospitals have been foregoing vaccine mandates to avoid staffing shortages. This on top of the existing shortage in fields like nursing amid rising COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

However, hospitals have been ramping up hiring efforts – even increasing benefits to flip that issue on its head. The professional services firm Xon reported that 40% of health systems have accelerated hiring efforts during the pandemic.

Layoffs, furloughs, and buyouts dominated the headlines for hospitals and healthcare systems in 2020 – as lockdown resulted in cost-cutting.


“The top priority in 2020 was to mitigate rising costs for the employer—understandably, given the financial shock that health systems were reeling from,” Sheena Singh explained. She’s senior Vice President of Aon’s national healthcare industry practice. “Now, the pandemic has exacerbated a labor shortage that could impact patient care delivery, delay attainment of organizational objectives and accelerate burnout among clinical staff.”

Most of the providers in the survey also said that things like retaining high-quality talent, developing existing talent, and improving well-being int he workforce were priorities amid this hiring push. All of these factors are believed to be important long-term strategies to find success.

Still though, the response to New York hospital systems mandating the COVID-19 vaccine among its workers was met with intense criticism. Labor law experts say it’s a simple matter of policy, though.

If an individual fails to comply with company policies – the outcome of that action is on the worker, they explained.

Many also pointed to the policies individually – as a sign that hospital systems were not afraid of consequences associated with loss of staff. “Any RRH employee who has not provided documentation of their first dose by September 27, 2021 and has not been granted a medical exemption and related accommodation, will not be permitted to work and will be placed on an unpaid leave for five (5) days. Any RRH employee who does not provide documentation of their first dose within that five (5) day period will be terminated and will not be entitled to unemployment benefits or payout of accrued vacation,” Rochester Regional Health said.



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