As COVID-19 infection rates continue to surge across the nation, U.S. medical facilities are facing increasing pressure to implement vaccine mandates for all employees. A blanket mandate may seem like the right call to curb infection rates and reduce hospitalization numbers, but the reality isn’t quite so black and white.
Medical facilities are currently experiencing staffing shortages due to the pandemic — particularly in rural areas — and a vaccine mandate may only exacerbate the problem. To prepare for this anticipated exodus of health care workers, the Biden Administration has set up funding for rural medical facilities to provide financial support during this lapse in staffing coverage.
Coronis Health understands how the pandemic has disproportionately affected rural medical facilities. With over 100 years of combined experience in various specialties, we’ve made it our mission to assist rural facilities in any way we can.
This impending staffing shortage doesn’t have to ripple through your entire organization. Coronis offers a number of services to help support shortages within the administrative side of your facility. We have teams of experienced medical billers and coders to temporarily cover your gap in staffing so that you can continue providing high-quality medical care.
The Staffing Problem
The data is clear: COVID-19 infection rates are increasing in every state in the continental U.S. Several different factors are influencing these numbers, but the fast-spreading delta variant and number of unvaccinated individuals are, without question, the dominant determinants.
With infection rates on the rise, health care workers are feeling stretched thin. According to recent studies, up to 30% of medical professionals have considered leaving the industry altogether. Physical and mental exhaustion, burnout, and disillusionment of the medical field are just a few reasons the healthcare industry is struggling to find and retain high-quality staff.
Another culprit behind the shortage? Vaccines. With the introduction of the COVID-19 vaccine — currently offered by Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson — many health care workers have expressed wariness.
The problem seems to be twofold. A recent survey of nursing home caregivers suggests that many workers worry about vaccine safety and side effects due to lack of information. According to the American Medical Association, others feel that the vaccine was developed too quickly for their comfort, while some believe they’ve developed long-term antibodies after repeated virus exposures.
Whatever the reason may be, unvaccinated healthcare workers are at risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 and of passing it on to immunocompromised patients, which increases infection rates within the entire system. As hospital beds fill up and staff call out sick due to infection, medical facilities are continuing to operate without the number of workers they need to properly care for their patients.
Are Vaccine Requirements Coming?
The number of major health networks requiring that employees be vaccinated is growing fast. California, for example, has mandated that all healthcare workers in the state be vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of September. Those who refuse will be subject to regular testing. Connecticut, New Jersey, and Virginia have issued similar mandates, while numerous private facilities are following suit. In June, more than 150 Houston Methodist employees were fired or resigned over the facility’s vaccine mandate.
But not all states are requiring vaccinations for healthcare workers. Montana state law prohibits any employer from requiring workers to be vaccinated. Additionally, employers cannot discriminate against workers based on vaccination status. Likewise, a 32-year-old law in Oregon prevents employers from independently mandating vaccines for healthcare workers, prompting Gov. Kate Brown to issue new guidance regarding health and safety in healthcare settings.
Help on the Horizon
As the uptick in medical facilities requiring proof of vaccination grows, the White House has a close eye on rural hospitals, where COVID-19 infection rates sit higher than at urban facilities and staffing shortages hit all-time highs in many regions.
Fortunately, federal assistance is on the horizon, with The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) allocating $8.5 billion in American Rescue Plan funding to help support healthcare providers serving rural Medicare, Medicaid, and Children’s Health Insurance Plan (CHIP) patients.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will also allocate $500 million in American Rescue Plan funding to create the Emergency Rural Health Care Grant Program. This program is expected to increase access to COVID-19 testing and vaccines, food assistance, telehealth, medical supplies, and more. One primary goal of this new funding is to boost staffing in rural facilities that are most impacted by COVID-19.
Coronis Medical Billing Services
The need for proper staffing in rural medical facilities is critical right now. As vaccine mandates grow, it’s important for these facilities to prepare for additional staffing shortages. Coronis Health has the skill and experience to shoulder the burden. Our medical billing services will keep your medical billing and coding processes continue to run smoothly in spite of staffing shortages and changes.
We provide the highest quality medical billers and coders to optimize your revenue cycle while you tend to more urgent duties pertaining to patient care. From simplifying the collection process to scrubbing claims and reducing denials. In addition, our medical billing services can also help keep the administrative side of your facility running smoothly.
To learn more about how Coronis Health can help you maintain success during staffing shortages, contact a financial consultant for a free financial checkup today.