The real fallout from the mandate to vaccinate healthcare workers

James M. Berklan

OK, folks, it’s time to get the government’s mandate on the COVID-19 vaccine straight. Has it scared your workers off to the exits, as countless long-term care leaders and stakeholders have warned?

If you recall, a little over a month ago I asked you to write to me about the number or percentage of workers who actually quit for this reason. I received some interesting responses, but they were relatively few because my offer was originally sent out well before the deadlines for the final mandate for the vaccines expired.

Now, however, is a good time to take inventory.

How many of your employees have actually left their jobs due to a COVID vaccination mandate? (Remember: we agreed that it would not be fair to count those who left earlier, or for other reasons, such as fear for their own safety, as the invisible and deadly virus made its way during pre-testing and pre-vaccination days.)

Earlier this week, we heard from industry executives who noted that thousands of people had left the workforce before vaccines or mandates were even a thing. The American Health Care Association estimates the number of departures since the start of the pandemic at 400,000.

Medical and religious exemptions are believed to have allowed many buildings to remain open. Have these self-applied exemptions been your greatest asset?

So far, I’ve heard all kinds of answers: Exempt employees have kept our doors open. We have lost a handful of workers, but every loss, no matter how small, is crucial. We did what we were told and pulled ourselves together. Our health care workers have obtained their vaccines (or exemptions) to represent 100% still available.

A big danger for providers in all of this, of course, is that regulators might be right if there were no significant additional leakage from the long-term care sector due to the mandate. In other words, he didn’t chase the crowds off the pitch. This is where you can adjust them. Just shoot me a few lines describing your situation, and I’ll compile the answers into one big, enlightening report.

While you’re at it, please also respond to the role that exemptions have played. Indicate if you have received many requests (or not) and if you have refused calls. All of this is of great interest to peers and observers across the country.

What comes out of this will influence how regulators view vendor protests or complaints in the future.

As I noted the first time I offered to be your mouthpiece to the Feds, you can tell me your numbers confidentially. You must at least identify with me, however, so that no one can allege inexplicable shenanigans.

So stay tuned to this space for what has been submitted. Your peers, patients, families, and perhaps most importantly, regulators would all like to know.

Let me hear you: [email protected].

James M. Berklan is editor of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News.

Opinions expressed in McKnight’s columns are not necessarily those of McKnight.

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