WHMS Statement on COVID-19 Vaccination Mandates for Healthcare Facilities

Friday, November 5, 2021

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Department Health and Human Services (DHHS) officially released COVID-19 vaccinations requirements for health care staff.

This requirement will affect over 17 million healthcare workers nationwide, including all services provided through West Holt Medical Services (WHMS). Hospitals and clinics that receive funding from CMS (Medicare & Medicaid) must establish a policy ensuring all staff have received their first dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine (or a one-dose COVID-19 vaccine) by December 5, 2021, to be able to provide health care services. All eligible staff must be fully vaccinated by January 4, 2022.

Initially, it was thought regular testing would be a viable alternative to vaccination, but the most recent information from CMS shows that is not the case in healthcare facilities.

Hospitals and clinics that are found to be out of compliance will be officially cited and could face consequences varying from significant financial penalties as well as placing themselves in jeopardy of no longer receiving payments through the Medicare & 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 have had the option of receiving the vaccination while other facilities instituted mandatory vaccination policies. WHMS Leadership’s intent was engage in a strategic pause in implementing any such policy until it was included as part of their conditions of compliance associated with CMS. This afforded staff the opportunity to obtain as much education as possible.

WHMS will develop and implement a process for ensuring vaccination compliance as well as determining when exemptions are appropriate based on recognized disability, medical conditions or religious beliefs, observances, or practices. In addition to the requirements issued by CMS, the process and policy will strictly follow guidance from OSHA and the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission.

“The recent announcement made by CMS is not a surprise. Many health systems, hospitals and clinics have already made this a requirement for employment. We intentionally delayed implementing any such mandate as long as possible out of respect for our staff and because to this point, staff’s vaccination status has not been an issue because of the strict safeguards we have in place to protect patients and staff,” said WHMS CEO Brian Martin. “I appreciate the impact the decisions made by our staff over the next few weeks will have. I am confident 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 illustrates the compassion and respect we have for all staff and will continue to provide comprehensive healthcare with respect and compassion to our communities.”