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Government Vaccine Mandate and the Short-staffed Healthcare Industry

On September 9th, President Joe Biden issued a government vaccine mandate which will require healthcare workers at most healthcare facilities to get vaccinated or risk losing their jobs. However, because of vaccine hesitancy and refusals to get vaccinated, many providers in the healthcare industry may end up short-staffed. Anserve provides medical answering services that could be a solution to your staffing issues.

What we know About Joe Biden’s Announcement on COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

One of the directives included in the government vaccine mandate announced by Joe Biden in September applies to federal employees, contractors, and healthcare providers which receive Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement. Previously, these healthcare facilities were able to offer their employees the option of regular testing instead of vaccination if they preferred not to take the COVID-19 vaccine. Now these employers must ensure that their employees are fully vaccinated within 75 days of signing the order, with exceptions for those with disabilities or sincere religious beliefs which oppose vaccination. Some of the 17 million healthcare workers this affects may choose to leave their jobs rather than comply with the government vaccine mandate, leaving healthcare employers short-staffed.

Are Hospitals and Medical Providers Already Short-Staffed?

The government vaccine mandate may exacerbate staffing issues that already exist at many healthcare facilities and offices across the country. Last November, the Department of Health and Human Services reported that more than 1,000 hospitals across the United States were “critically” short-staffed, while up to 21% of all hospitals said that they expected to be critically short-staffed in the next week. According to Dr. Omar Lateef, CEO of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, “People are tired in health care, and there’s a burnout that we haven’t seen before. That combined with the increased volumes we expect in winter sets the stage for even more burnout in the future and even more staffing issues.” With up to 44% of workers in a recent study saying that they would consider leaving their jobs if they were required to get a vaccine, already short-staffed medical providers may face additional challenges in meeting the demands of the healthcare industry in the aftermath of the government vaccine mandate.

How have Healthcare Providers Altered Their Services Due to Staffing Shortages?

Healthcare providers have resorted to different methods to offset the difficulties of being short-staffed. In addition to offering nurses incentives to pick up extra shifts, many providers have been forced to suspend some services, like Lewis County General Hospital in upstate New York, where they “paused” their maternity services. Hospitals are placing a priority on critical services and deprioritizing non-urgent, non-essential care. However, some hard hit areas have had to resort to crisis standards of care where equipment, hospital space, and staff are rationed. Dave Dillon, a spokesperson for the Missouri State hospital association said, “If this was a regional or a local crisis like we saw early in New York, nurses would be volunteering to go run to the emergency. That isn’t available anymore because this is everywhere.” The government vaccine mandate may create additional challenges for hospitals and other healthcare providers that are already altering their services because they are short-staffed.

During the pandemic, it’s more important than ever that your practice’s calls are answered by a live agent.

When your practice is short-staffed and patient volume is high, answering the phones may be your lowest priority. However, with the delta variant of COVID-19 still ravaging the country and flu season approaching, your patients need to speak to you more than ever. A live, highly-trained medical answering service agent is critical not only to preserve your business, but also to answer patients’ questions and identify which patients need care immediately and which don’t. The cost of not doing that properly can mean wasted resources and poor care when your patients need you most. The uncertainty of how the government vaccine mandate will affect staffing and the virus itself call for measures to protect your business and the public. Medical answering services can help ease the burden of being short-staffed and help meet the needs of your practice.

How Answering Services like Anserve can help your Medical Center

Anserve offers highly-trained HIPAA-compliant representatives that function like an extension of your team when you are short-staffed. Our award-winning, family business serves over 1,800 clients including over 30 health networks. We provide 24/7/365 services following a script that you design, and handle your overflow calls even in the event of an emergency. If you are concerned about becoming short-staffed in the wake of the government vaccine mandate, contact Anserve to see how our medical answering services can help your practice or healthcare facility.