Vaccine mandates issued in the name of public health could end up hurting public health, as hospitals face the prospect of having to fire or lay off hundreds of workers who don't comply with the mandates. Some hospitals are already suspending certain services because of staff shortages brought on by the vaccine mandates. In New York, the governor declared a "State of Emergency" even as she fired thousands of healthcare workers who didn't get the jab.
These mass layoffs come as the healthcare industry already faces staffing shortages due to pandemic burnout and other factors. "Hospitals are not hotels...you need staff in order to care for patients that are ill," says David Balat, director of the Right on Healthcare Initiative with the Texas Public Policy Foundation. "The number of staffed beds (in hospitals) has decreased over time, particularly from last summer to this summer."
Balat tells KTRH vaccine mandates and layoffs will have serious consequences for both COVID and non-COVID patients. "For someone who may be going in for cancer screenings or cardiac care, when you have less staffed beds those people still have to be cared for by bedside nurses and doctors...and if they're not there, they're not there," he says.
"This is particularly dire for the rural hospitals," he continues. "Because they're already working with a limited number of staff, and so you put rural communities in more danger."
Beyond the potential healthcare crisis, Balat notes these mandates are disrespectful to healthcare workers who have been at ground zero of the pandemic since last year. "Doctors and nurses were elevated in the public consciousness," he says. "But here we are on the heels of them being referred to as heroes, and now we're treating them like pariahs, because they're not submitting to political dogma."