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Tuesday, September 27, 2022
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Hospital Facing Staff Shortages Despite Vaccine Mandates

Health

A health worker in the COVID-19 ICU at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston. | Image by Go Nakamura, Getty Images

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When the American Hospital Association put its full support behind vaccine mandates at hospitals and health systems, many leaders raised concerns about the potential for staffing shortages. The effects of those mandates are playing out now at Houston’s Methodist Hospital, where a spike in COVID-19 infections has hundreds of staff members recovering at home.

Dr. Robert Phillips, the executive vice president, and chief physician executive reported that almost 400 hospital staff tested positive for the virus recently, according to an internal email obtained by The Epoch Times.


“While most of these employees are getting COVID-19 from the community, it is vital that we don’t face a situation where too many employees are out sick,” Dr. Phillips wrote, according to The Epoch Times.

In 2021, Houston’s Methodist became the first hospital in the nation to mandate the vaccine-booster combo for its private healthcare workers and staff. In response to the mandate, 153 staff members either quit or were fired. Other hospitals saw many of their staff leave over pandemic-related burnout or for lucrative jobs that allowed for regular travel.

Dr. Marty Makary, a Johns Hopkins surgeon and professor, believes the problem with vaccine mandates is that they are “immunologically ignorant” of the human body’s natural ability to fend off the virus.

“When Methodist fired nurses who had natural immunity for not being vaccinated, they fired those least likely to spread the infection at the workplace,” he said. “Many nurses have circulating antibodies that neutralize the COVID virus, but they are not antibodies that Methodist Hospital recognizes.”

BA.5 — a subvariant of Omicron — is currently the dominant strain in the United States, according to CDC data. Phillips describes BA.5 as more “vaccine-evasive” than previous strains, with protection against infection with the virus becoming increasingly ineffective.

Jennifer Bridges was a nurse at Methodist Hospital before getting fired in June 2021 for refusing to take the vaccine. “This only proves our point that the vaccine doesn’t work,” she said according to The Epoch Times. Bridges continued saying, “A true vaccine would prevent you from catching the virus. It’s time Methodist owns up to its mistakes.”

Stephanie Asin, a spokesperson for Houston Methodist Hospital, says this is a false premise, and the point of the vaccines is to keep you from severe illness and being hospitalized.

“We have 400 employees out sick with COVID. They are out sick without severe illness,” Asin responded. “We stand by the effectiveness of the vaccine.”

Nurse Bridges now works at a private clinic and says all she does is care for COVID-19 patients. Having never experienced symptoms after her initial infection two years ago, Bridges believes Houston Methodist Hospital is hurting themselves with the strict mandates.

“The patients are suffering in the hospitals, and the little staff they have are overworked due to these shortages,” she said. “It’s sad that they would rather keep away very healthy, unvaccinated nurses with natural immunity when they need us so badly.”

Until the full staff at Methodist recovers from the virus, patients will see fewer hospital staff walking the hallways. “Our patients need us to stay healthy, so I strongly encourage our employees to be as vigilant as possible,” said Phillips.

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