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WA hospitals anticipate effects of October 18 employee vaccine mandate

Courtesy of MultiCare

Hospitals in Washington are trying to gauge how much of their workforce will comply with the state mandate for Covid vaccinations as the October 18 deadline approaches.For many, including Swedish Hospital in Seattle, the disruption will be minimal, says Kristy Carrington, the system’s chief nursing officer.

“99% of our caregivers have either been vaccinated or they’ve met the requirements on an approved exemption, medical or religious. The remaining 1% that we have, a little more than half of that is just caregivers that we have of unknown status and we’re actively reaching out and contacting those caregivers so that we know what their intent is," she said.

Carrington spoke Monday during a Washington State Hospital Association briefing.

In rural areas, where the vaccination rates are lower, a higher percentage of health care professionals may leave their jobs. Taya Briley from the hospital association says her organization has done a survey of rural facilities.

“While there are likely to be some service closures and reductions, overall, we believe that services will remain open. The real challenge is going to be if there’s another surge or if there are other stressors on the health care system and how that will impact our hospitals and their ability to absorb those additional pressures," he said.

Briley says the association plans to survey larger hospitals within the next few days to get a sense of what the effects will be there.

She says the real personnel problem is in long-term care facilities. Hospitals have high numbers of patients ready to be discharged, but transitional care facilities don’t have the capacity to absorb them.