39 quit Kansas City-area health system over vaccine mandate: report

39 quit Kansas City-area health system over vaccine mandate: report
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Thirty-nine staffers in a Kansas City-area medical system have opted to resign rather than follow the health system’s new COVID-19 vaccine mandates, officials say.

The Truman Medical Centers/University Health in July became the first health care system in the Kansas City area to mandate employee vaccinations, The Kansas City Star reports. Now, 39 workers within the hospital system, roughly less than 1 percent of all staff, decided to resign rather than get the vaccine.

“We had amazing support from our team on this,” said Truman president and CEO Charlie Shields. “Overall, the majority of our team members thought this was the right thing to do. They were very proud that Truman led the way in vaccinations, led the way in testing and is now leading the way with the mandate on employees.”

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A “few” of the 39 employees who resigned from Truman did so due to religious objections to the vaccine, Shields said. 

The mandate came after the region's health care systems buckled under the outbreak of new delta variant infections this past summer. Since then, other hospitals including Saint Luke’s, the University of Kansas Health System and Children’s Mercy required similar vaccine mandates to curb new infections and hospitalizations. 

A sizable portion of medical professionals, including doctors and nurses, have called for vaccine mandates in their workplaces and beyond, with over 30 medical advocacy organizations penning an open letter in July urging the mandatory vaccination of all U.S. health care workers. 

“Vaccination is the primary way to put the pandemic behind us and avoid the return of stringent public health measures,” the signatories wrote. “We call for all health care and long-term care employers to require their employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.”

Shields said that the hospital’s success in vaccination rates stems from its staff’s passion for public health.

“The fact that we had such a high compliance rate with this goes back to why people are in this business in the first place — it’s to take care of people and make sure people are safe,” he told reporters.

Current vaccination rates in Kansas among health care workers in the state’s major health care systems are high, with Truman and Children’s Mercy boasting staff vaccination rates of 70 percent and 80 percent, respectively. This is higher than the state average, which shows that 46.5 percent of Kansans have a full dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. 

Roughly 48 percent of the population in neighboring Missouri are vaccinated. 

At the federal level, President BidenJoe BidenCDC working to tighten testing requirement for international travelers On The Money — Powell pivots as inflation rises Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by ExxonMobil — Manchin seeks 'adjustments' to spending plan MORE already required COVID-19 vaccinations for health care workers that work in Medicare or Medicaid facilities, an order that impacts about 17 million workers nationwide.

--Updated on Sept. 30 at 7:02 a.m.