ORLANDO, FL – The COVID shot mandates are compounding nursing shortages in California, Texas and in many places across the country.
California’s new injection mandate for health care workers is already causing problems for understaffed hospitals before it is even implemented. The mandate complicates staffing for California hospitals. Hospital administrators worry that the state’s vaccine mandate for health care workers, which goes into effect Sept. 30, could drive some of their workers out. They’ve already reported some resistance among employees.
Some traveling nurses who are in high demand nationwide are turning down California assignments because they don’t want to get vaccinated. The California Department of Public Health in March 2020, contracted with Aya Health one of the nation’s largest traveling nurse providers to pay up to $1 billion over six months to help hospitals meet nursing and other clinical staff shortages. It appears to have not worked due to the vaccine mandate.
“Oftentimes at hospitals there are long waits and long delays,” said Dr. Tom Sugarman, an emergency physician in the East Bay and senior director of government affairs at Vituity, a physicians’ group. “There’s not enough staff to keep beds open, and patients can languish waiting.”
On August 16, 2021, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order reinstating emergency provisions aimed at ensuring adequate staffing. In part, the order allows health care workers from out of state to work in California.
“All of our hospitals are saying staffing is a big problem,” said Lois Richardson, attorney for the California Hospital Association. “We have fewer personnel than at the beginning of the pandemic and more patients.”
The staffing shortage is so severe that Scripps Health is considering temporarily consolidating some of its outpatient centers. Scripps, which has five hospitals and 28 outpatient clinics in the San Diego area, told CalMatters that it is serving nearly 20 percent more patients on average than before the pandemic. At the same time, job openings at the hospitals have increased 57 percent since August 2019. For nursing jobs alone, vacancies have increased 96 percent.
“One hospital told us they had 474 unvaccinated employees. They did a big education and incentive push,” said Richardson, the association’s attorney.
Nurses are also wary of the COVID-19 injection. Some with large social media followings have participated in protests in Southern California, arguing that the mandates violate their personal freedom.
Sacramento nurse Carly Rinaldi said, “We should have a right to choose. It is somebody’s personal choice to receive a vaccine. I am not against vaccines. I was hesitant like I think many are with this vaccine.” Rinaldi said she chose to get the Pfizer injection months ago.
She said it’s not the injection she’s protesting against on the steps of the state capitol but rather the statewide mandate from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), which says healthcare workers need both doses of the shot before Sept. 30 or must undergo weekly testing.
“I am not OK with my friends and colleagues needing to make a choice or else they lose their job. I’m not comfortable with going to work with whatever reduction of workforce is not going to come to work with me after the mandate date is implemented,” she said.
There are thousands of nurses all over the United States that are refusing the injection because they don’t believe it’s been thoroughly tested or vetted, that it’s being forced and/or they have a deeply held religious belief against it. Many of these nurses have either been put on unpaid leave or have been fired due to refusing the injection.
In Texas, weeks after 150 hospital workers were fired by Houston Methodist, one of several hospitals struggling has reached a breaking point amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
Jennifer Bridges knew what was coming when her director at Houston Methodist hospital called her up in June to inquire about her vaccination status.
When asked if she was vaccinated or had made an effort to get vaccinated, Bridges, a 39-year-old registered nurse, responded “absolutely not.” She was terminated on the spot.
“All last year, through the COVID pandemic, we came to work and did our jobs,” said Kara Shepherd a labor and delivery nurse. “We did what we were asked. This year, we’re basically told we’re disposable.”
While Shepherd and her colleagues may be disposable in the eyes of hospital administrators, they are perhaps not as easily replaced as she or Houston Methodist had thought.
Two months after firing unvaccinated hospital staff, Houston Methodist is one of several area hospitals experiencing a severe shortage of medical personnel. Hospitals with overflow triage areas remain vacant. Medical tents outside of Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital are ready to start accepting COVID-19 patients immediately, but the beds are empty because there are not enough nurses to take care of patients.
Hospital officials have been silent on the issue. What we know is that Houston hospitals that did not abruptly fire 150 employees struggled to deal with the COVID spike, and in some cases, people died as a result. So, it’s safe to presume that Houston Methodist’s decision to fire 150 employees a few weeks before the Delta variant arrived in force didn’t make the situation any better and probably made it much worse.
“The principle of forcing a vaccine on someone goes against everything we’ve ever been taught as nurses,” Modesto nurse Laura Estrella said.
Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “Forcing nurses and health care workers to inject their bodies with the COVID shots is a violation of federal law and many state laws. The mandates are insane and inhumane. No employer or government may force or coerce anyone to violate their sincere religious beliefs with the shot mandates. Hospitals that impose such a mandate are sending America into a national health care crisis.”
SOURCE Liberty Counsel