Are COVID-19 vaccination mandates straining ASC staffs?

With health systems mandating COVID-19 vaccination for healthcare workers, and CMS expected to mandate staff vaccinations as a condition of participating in Medicare, many ASC leaders are worried about further strains on staffing. 

The pandemic already has severely strained ASCs as surgeries migrate to the outpatient setting and hospitals are offering higher salaries and sign-on bonuses.  

Eduardo Tolentino, administrator of the Outpatient Surgery Center of Central Florida in Wildwood, told Becker's that he thinks the vaccination mandates "will definitely have a negative impact on operations."

"Staffing is already extremely challenging as it is," he said. "We are all competing for a limited pool of qualified candidates."

Some ASCs have already felt the effect of the mandates. Aimee Snavely, RN, administrator of Clermont (Fla.) Ambulatory Surgical Center, told Becker's that she has had pro re nata nurses leave the center, despite her company allowing staff to be tested every week if they decide not to get vaccinated.

John Wheeler, RN, administrator of Intracoastal Surgery Center in Melbourne, Fla., told Becker's that while he doesn't foresee a large staffing issue from the mandate, he has a staff member planning to leave nursing altogether over the mandates.

Staffing shortages have reached a peak at many hospitals and health systems nationwide — with some closing beds, fearing shutdown and suspending unvaccinated staff. 

Vipul Nanavati, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Boise-based Idaho Shoulder to Hand Specialists, told Becker's he doesn't see the "same level of scrutiny upon the ASCs as there are upon the hospitals with regards to vaccination of staff."

He also said he expects there to be legal challenges making "the waters even more murky for all parties."

Vaccination-related legal challenges are already troubling Quincy (Ill.) Physicians and Surgeons Clinic, where staff filed for a temporary restraining order against their employer, claiming that requiring a COVID-19 vaccination to continue employment violates Illinois law. 

But there could be an upside for ASCs. 

Dr. Nanavati said that perceived mistreatment or lack of support from hospital administration during COVID-19 could drive hospital staff to ASCs. While hospitals will likely be able to offer higher salaries, he said he thinks ASCs can provide a better quality of life and a less stressful work environment.

"The more interesting question post-COVID will be who will be able to attract and capture the shrunken pool of available staff," he said. 

And some ASC leaders point to vaccination mandates with confidence as COVID-19 infections begin to steadily decline nationwide. 

"Our first obligation is to keep our patients, providers and ASC teammates safe," Darin Hill, CEO of Compass Surgical Partners, told Becker's. "We recognize that governmental mandates, while unpopular in some regions, offer a level playing field for all providers. We remain encouraged by the recent drop in COVID-19 infection levels."

Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Webinars

Featured Whitepapers

Featured Podcast