Truman Medical Centers' vaccine mandate results in resignations from less than 1% of total staff

Virus Outbreak Boosters
Posted at 1:27 PM, Sep 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-28 19:32:28-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Truman Medical Centers/University Health was the first medical center in the region to require staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The hospital said 39 employees are without a job because they decided not to get the COVID vaccine, as required by the hospital.

Truman's CEO Charlie Shields said the resignations will not affect patient care.

Vaccine mandates have already been in place for a long time, COVID is just the newest on the list.

"It's unfortunate we're losing a small number but what we have now is very manageable and we'll continue to provide great patient care," Shields said.

The number is less than one percent of TMC's roughly 5,000 employees and is a mix of staffers, including those who directly serve patients.

The hospital announced the mandate in July, when more than 70 percent of their employees were already vaccinated. The deadline passed Sept. 20.

"I think to show the community as an academic medical center, we believe in the science of the vaccination and we believe it works, and we believe it'll be what ultimately gets us out of the pandemic," Shields said.

Shields said they are thrilled that more than 99 percent of their staff chose to get the vaccine, many of whom have been vaccinated for a while now.

Front-line workers, like people in healthcare, were among the first eligible for the vaccine.

Hospital officials say vaccine requirements for healthcare workers is nothing new.

"Just like we protect them from influenza by having influenza vaccination mandates and for Hepatitis, by having hepatitis mandates," Missouri Hospital Association spokesperson Dave Dillon said. "This is a similar step."

Hospitals also require TB screenings for employees, along with flu shots and Hepatitis B shots.

Dillon said the vaccine is part of hospitals' moral and legal values to protect their staff and, ultimately, the patients.

"The solution to that before December of last year was to wrap as much PPE as you possibly could around yourself to protect yourself," Dillon said. "When the vaccinations became available and proved to be very successful, that was that first tool that was truly the glimmer of light at end of the tunnel."

Truman Medical Centers is not the only hospital requiring COVID vaccine mandates, and the Missouri Hospital Association tells KSHB 41 news they expect every hospital is headed in that direction.

The federal government is requiring vaccines at places with more than 100 employees and health providers who work with Medicaid and Medicare.

"In the end, the most important thing we have to do is protect the patient. To do that, it means we have to not put them in an environment where they can get sick while they're getting care," Dillon said.

The number of staff at TMC with medical or religious exemptions to the requirement is not available at this time.

The American Hospital Association told KSHB 41 News in an email that about 2,750 hospitals, or 41% of hospitals, nation-wide are operating under some kind of COVID-19 vaccine mandate.