After a federal judge temporarily suspended the Biden administration’s vaccine requirements for federally-funded health care institutions in at least 10 states on Monday, hospitals in Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming are effectively prohibited from getting rid of essential workers who have yet to get the COVID-19 jab.
Many hospitals in other states, however, are hemorrhaging desperately-needed health care workers just because of their vaccination status.
“The scale falls clearly in favor of healthcare facilities operating with some unvaccinated employees, staff, trainees, students, volunteers, and contractors, rather than the swift, irremediable impact of requiring healthcare facilities to choose between two undesirable choices — providing substandard care or providing no healthcare at all,” U.S. District Judge Matthew Schelp wrote.
Schelp is right; while health care systems in the 10 aforementioned states are better protected to keep their unvaccinated staff on board to assist and treat patients, hospitals, specifically rural ones, in other states are struggling to keep people alive due to understaffing directly linked to COVID-19 shot mandates.
“The implication of that for rural hospitals, in particular, is, how are we going to keep delivering babies if we don’t have nurses for the OB unit? How are we going to keep taking care of trauma if we don’t have nurses and respiratory therapists and lab technicians in the emergency room?” John Henderson, president and CEO of Texas Organization of Rural and Community Hospitals, told KENS5.
With already limited access to specialized professionals, long commutes to other health care centers, and a medical supply chain hampered by long and sometimes arduous treks, rural hospitals already wrestle with meeting the medical moment when it comes. The Biden administration’s insistence that every medical worker, many of whom risked their own health and toiled long hours to work through the height of the pandemic before a vaccine became available, must get the shot to continue serving is devastating their communities.
Rural hospitals rely heavily on federal funding to provide basic services to people who live far from urban medical hubs, so refusing to comply with the federal mandates in an effort to retain key staff members means they could risk losing the dollars powering their whole systems. On the other hand, complying with the federal vaccine requirements and risking fines from states such as Texas, where Republican governors have taken actions to prevent vaccine mandates, means losing crucial doctors, specialists, surgeons, nurses, and other staff who could otherwise help keep ailing patients alive.
“This mandate essentially has the potential of being a death blow to our infrastructure and the organization that we’ve worked hard to overcome, the turmoil of COVID,” said Dr. Melanie Richburg, CEO of Lynn County Hospital District in Tahoka, Texas. “It’s going to be difficult from a staffing perspective to be able to overcome. If we have another surge, are we going to have enough people still here to be able to take care of the sick people in our communities?”
In September, the Lewis County Health System in New York suspended care in its maternity ward after more than a dozen staff members in the unit had not received the COVID-19 shot.
“We are unable to safely staff the service after Sept. 24. The number of resignations received leaves us no choice but to pause delivering babies at Lewis County General Hospital,” CEO Gerald R. Cayer told NNY360. “It is my hope that the (state) Department of Health will work with us in pausing the service rather than closing the maternity department.”
Even some cities such as Milwaukee are suffering the consequences of losing numerous key employees who did not care to be medically coerced into getting the jab. Last week, Children’s Wisconsin Milwaukee Hospital scrambled to find nurses and other staff members to tend to 18 injured children who were just a fraction of the dozens of people mowed down when criminal Darrell Brooks allegedly plowed a red SUV through the Christmas parade route.
“It was a nightmare,” one nurse told Federalist contributor Dan O’Donnell. “We just don’t have enough people and [supervisors] were frantically calling in everyone they could, but it wasn’t enough. We are taking care of everyone the best we can, but it’s hard.”
In a tone-deaf announcement last week, the Biden administration overlooked the inevitable service disruptions that are caused by vaccine mandates to reveal that it will invest $1.5 billion into hospitals that serve rural areas.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has laid bare the myriad inequalities at play in the U.S., and within its health systems in particular. People of color have been especially hard hit, as have those in rural communities,” Forbes reported.
It isn’t the pandemic itself that has most harmed rural communities, however. It’s the federal government’s response to it. Dumping more taxpayer dollars into rural hospitals can’t create workers out of thin air, and it can’t undo the damage done by the Biden administration’s heavy-handed and medically coercive vaccine mandate that is now leaving patients without essential care.