Nurses leaving add to stress of staffing shortage at UVA Medical Center

UVA Medical Center
UVA Medical Center(WVIR)
Published: Dec. 2, 2021 at 5:49 PM EST
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - UVA Medical CEO Wendi Horton says as of November 1, the hospital has reached 100% compliance with its COIVD-19 vaccine mandate requiring all staff to get vaccinated, as well as its medical or religious exemption process.

However, meeting that goal also meant having to terminate those who didn’t want to get the shot. Out of roughly 8,500 employees working at the hospital, 71 were terminated for noncompliance of its mandate.

Those terminations coincide with staffing shortages, creating an added stressor at the UVA Medical Center.

“I think even with one individual, we feel the impact, and 71 is definitely a consideration for how we staff, our teams, and what does that mean for our workforce in a time when there are national work shortages of healthcare workers,” Horton said Thursday, December 2.

New employees are also required to comply when they start the job.

“What it means for UVA Health is there were some remote workforce that was not as part of the initial mandate for the health system. And so, that January 4 deadline is for all comers,” Horton said.

But some are leaving the job, whether it be because of the mandate, or for another reason: opting to become a travel nurse.

“I think that the workforce dynamic and healthcare has trained and changed dramatically since COVID. And one of the experiences are with with travelers and so nurses that become travelers, you know, in the marketplace, depending on it is are receiving three three times the salary as as somebody else,” Horton said. “So we’re really trying to figure out how best to do that for many healthcare systems. It’s completely unsustainable.”

Despite losing some workers to the mandate, or other reasons, Horton says some who were terminated for noncompliance may be changing their tune.

“A lot of people are you know, reconsidering and coming back, and we’re working with those individuals,” Horton said.

Horton said the UVA Medical Center is still collecting data from workers who have been on leave or working remotely, so they are still in the final stages of making sure every worker is fully vaccinated by January 4, 2022.

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