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Hospitals awaiting vaccine mandate decision from CMS

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services may have a decision on a vaccine mandate for hospitals near the beginning of October.

ODESSA, Texas — Hospitals are still waiting on official word from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services about whether or not they will have to require all staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19, but until then, hospitals will continue to move forward and encourage vaccinations.

However, hospital may get a decision from CMS in just a couple weeks.

"We got an email earlier from the CMS saying that they’re supposed to have some guidance out probably before October so right around October 1, and we are definitely going to see what that looks like," Russell Tippin, president of Medical Center Hospital, said.

The question is, why does a vaccine mandate matter for hospitals?

"Every hospital takes Medicare and Medicaid, so anybody that takes money from the CMS, which is our federal government's health insurance plans, well then we have to follow through with whatever their mandate is. If they make it mandatory for all hospitals, that kind of makes our decision easy," Dr. Rohith Saravanan, ORMC's chief medical officer, said.

Regardless of whether or not CMS issues a mandate, Tippin said that MCH can't afford to lose any employee.

"We can’t afford to lose anybody. I mean no matter if that’s sickness, moving to another town, changing careers, we’re at a such a crisis level staffing that we can’t afford to lose anybody. To lose somebody over a situation like this would only increase our problem that we have," Tippin said.

"However, until hospitals reach that point where a mandate might be required, the only thing they can do is to encourage people to get vaccinated.

"We encourage everybody to be vaccinated, and if you’re not vaccinated to go ahead and get that done. I think that it’s in our best interest to keep all options available for our employees," Tippin said.