Hospitals across the country are being stretched as staff members call in sick over COVID-19 infections after health care systems fired employees over their vaccination status.
The Wall Street Journal reported that employee shortages led the Mass General Brigham hospital system to maintain 83 empty beds on Friday. “The University Hospitals system in Ohio has closed as many as 16% of its intensive-care beds recently, while Parkland Health & Hospital System in Dallas has shut 30 of 900 beds,” the Journal noted.
Physicians and healthcare authorities have said that reducing capacity is a last measure for hospitals where it is done to maintain the necessary safety and care of specific patients. However, such actions can have negative and potentially devastating effects. People are left waiting in emergency rooms, ambulances have to wait, and other care like cancer treatment is put off until a later date.
The amount of hospitals sending reports of critical staffing shortages to the federal government went up around 9% between the day of New Year’s Eve and January 6, reportedly getting up to 1,285 hospitals.
On Sunday, CNN reported that around 24% of hospitals in the U.S. are reporting they have a “critical staffing shortage,” per government data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The Journal added:
Doctors and hospital officials interviewed by The Wall Street Journal said they have cut capacity between 3% and 10% recently because of staff shortages.
Members of the Association of American Medical Colleges, a trade group for medical schools and teaching hospitals, report that 5% to 7% of employees are out sick with Covid-19, said Janis Orlowski, the association’s chief health care officer.
As of January 5, around 1% of Advocate Aurora’s 75,000 workers were not working because of COVID-19, a number which includes almost 430 clinical employees.
In October, the Chicago Sun Times reported Advocate Aurora Health had terminated over 400 workers who declined to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Hospitals around the country have fired workers since last fall when their vaccine mandates went into effect.
The Daily Wire reported that the Mayo Clinic fired around 700 workers over its vaccine mandate.
Mercy health system terminated around 2% of its employees, which amounted to around 800 people, per Fierce Healthcare.
The Journal also noted that around 3,000 of the Cleveland Clinic’s workers in Ohio and Florida were out sick on average every day last week, according to Robert Wyllie, the system’s chief of medical operations. University Hospitals also noted that around 2% of its workers are out sick on a daily basis. It has around 30,000 workers.
The Supreme Court heard arguments regarding President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for certain healthcare workers, imposed by HHS, on Friday. Some hospital systems suspended their vaccine mandates for employees as court battles continued, but many have still been impacted and are now negatively affected by shortages.
The Daily Wire reported, “That mandate requires all health care workers at facilities that participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, unless they are eligible for a medical or religious exemption, as reported by SCOTUS Blog.”
“The tenor and questions of the conservative justices were markedly different on the [healthcare worker mandate] argument dealing with health care facilities,” George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley told The Daily Wire. “Notably, the conservative justices were far more restrained in the [healthcare worker mandate] case in their questions.”
“The nexus between the mandate and health regulations appeared more discernible for key members like Chief Justice [John] Roberts,” he added. “Indeed, conservative justices pressed on standing questions, which is often a sign that some might be looking for an exit ramp.”
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