ATKINSON – The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) have officially released COVID-19 vaccination requirements for healthcare workers.
This requirement will affect more than 17 million healthcare workers nationwide, including all services provided by West Holt Medical Services (WHMS). Hospitals and clinics that receive funding from CMS (Medicare & Medicaid) must establish a policy to ensure that all staff receive their first dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine (or a COVID-19 vaccine at one dose) by December 5. 2021, to be able to provide health services. All eligible personnel must be fully immunized by January 4, 2022.
Initially, it was thought that regular testing would be a viable alternative to vaccination, but the most recent information from CMS shows that this is not the case in health facilities.
Hospitals and clinics found to be non-compliant will be officially cited and could face consequences ranging from significant financial penalties as well as the risk of no longer receiving payments through Medicare and Medicaid programs.
Throughout the COVID-19 public health emergency, WHMS has been fully committed to ensuring the safety of patients and staff. With various safety measures in place, WHMS staff had the opportunity to be vaccinated while other facilities instituted mandatory vaccination policies. The intention of the WHMS leadership was to engage in a strategic pause in the implementation of such a policy until it was included in the compliance conditions associated with CMS. This allowed the staff to get as much education as possible.
WHMS will develop and implement a process to ensure vaccination compliance as well as to determine when exemptions are appropriate based on a recognized disability, medical condition or religious beliefs, observances or practices. In addition to the requirements issued by CMS, the process and policy will strictly follow OSHA and Equal Opportunity Employment Commission guidelines.
“The recent CMS announcement comes as no surprise. Many healthcare systems, hospitals and clinics have already made it a requirement for employment. We have intentionally delayed the implementation of such a mandate for as long as possible out of respect for our staff and because so far the vaccination status of staff has not been an issue due to the strict guarantees we have. put in place to protect patients and staff, ”said the CEO of WHMS. Brian Martin. “I appreciate the impact the decisions made by our staff will have over the next few weeks. I am convinced that they will make the choice that is best for them both personally and professionally. WHMS is committed to implementing policies and engaging in a process that exemplifies the compassion and respect we have for all staff and will continue to provide comprehensive health care with respect and compassion for our communities .