January 4 Deadline Looms
Preparations have begun at Trinity Hospital in Minot for the possibility that approximately 3,000 health care workers under the Trinity umbrella could fall under a federal mandate to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by January 4, 2022 or lose employment.
“We have not enacted a mandate. That has not started,” said Randy Schwan, Trinity Hospital vice president. “We’re looking toward compliance with that rule and seeing if it will be changed. It is kind of up in the air.”
“We’re looking toward compliance with that rule and seeing if it will be changed. It is kind of up in the air.” Randy Schwan, VP of Trinity Hospital
The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, or CMS, has given affected health care workers until Jan. 4 to be fully vaccinated. Many, but not all Trinity employees, fall under the direction of CMS, which adds some complexity to how a vaccine mandate would be adopted. Trinity has various facilities in Minot, Williston, Devils Lake, Bottineau, and Garrison.
“We are a complex organization. We have remote workers that don’t come into the facilities at all. We are a large organization with a lot of services,” explained Schwan.
North Dakota has joined at least 10 other states in filing a lawsuit that challenges the Biden administration’s vaccination mandate that employers who receive funding through Medicare or Medicaid must require all employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Governor Doug Burgum called the mandate “blatant federal overreach.” The state has also joined in legal challenges to vaccine mandates for federal contractors and private businesses with 100 or more employees.
“All our staff has seen the ravages of the virus. It is a horrible, devastating disease,” Schwan
“All our staff has seen the ravages of the virus. It is a horrible, devastating disease,” stated Schwan. “We’re not done with this thing yet. The only way we get out of this thing is with vaccinations. It’s still killing people. We are going to be living this for a while.”
Although precise numbers are unknown, Schwan estimated that 55-70% of Trinity employees have already received vaccination against COVID-19. That number continues to grow as Trinity continues to educate their staff on the benefits of the vaccine.
“Every week we have employees getting the vaccine.”Schwan
“Every week we have employees getting the vaccine. Some just took a little while to do it,” remarked Schwan. “The vaccines work and have been found to be safe and effective. That’s not even debatable. No vaccine in the history of mankind has been scrutinized more than this one.”
Trinity, said Schwan, is already short staffed in some areas and recruiting during the COVID outbreak has been very difficult. Losing employees who don’t want to comply with a vaccination mandate would further compound the staffing problem.
“Many of those people have worked hard on this since the beginning,” said Schwan. “This comes at a very inopportune time. Still, we need to take care of our community. That’s our mission.”