A Covid-19 vaccine mandate won't force staff at this rural Missouri hospital to get the shot, CEO says. It will make them quit
Dr. Randy Tobler, CEO of Scotland County Hospital in Memphis, Missouri, has struggled to retain staff during the Covid-19 pandemic, losing 10 of his 57 nurses in the main hospital and three rural health clinics.
So Tobler can't afford to alienate any more health care workers, but he believes a Covid-19 vaccine mandate could do just that. Such a requirement won't make his unvaccinated staff get the shot, he says. It will make them quit.
"Our reality is we need staff to work. And in return for your working, we're not going to ask you to get a vaccine mandate," he told CNN. "There were people in the hospital that freely shared that if the vaccine mandate happened on our account or on anyone else's, they would not work here. That's just something they weren't going to put in their body."
That's why Tobler disagrees with the vaccine mandate announced by President Joe Biden last month that will apply to millions of health care workers across the country.
These are arguably the most crucial group of workers to have inoculated, because the vaccines would protect them and their patients, and keep the staff healthy so they can continue working. That's why they were among the first to be offered a Covid-19 vaccine.
There are indications that vaccine compliance is high among health care workers. Many professional health care associations have surveyed their members, the majority of whom have said they are already vaccinated. But despite evidence vaccines are safe and effective, some health care workers have resisted.
At Scotland County Hospital in rural northeastern Missouri, the difference is stark: Just 60% of the staff is vaccinated, according to the hospital.
Among those who are not is Sheila Balch, who works the hospital's front desk and is often the first person people see when they arrive. So far, she has decided not to get a Covid-19 vaccine, but that's not because she doesn't think the virus is a threat, she told CNN.
"I do believe Covid is terrible. I believe it's dangerous," she said. "I watch people every day. And I watch the fear in people's eyes every day ... But I do not think the government has the right to step in and mandate and tell us what we have to do."
Asked what she would do if Scotland County Hospital mandated that she get vaccinated, Balch said she'd look for another job. She doesn't want to, she added -- she cares for her patients and the people she works with.
"But at the same time, I'm not going to personally go against something that I feel very, very deeply in my soul, would hurt me," she said.
Read more at https://edition.cnn.com/2021/10/12/us/unvaccinated-missouri-hospital-covid-19/index.html