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Vaccine mandate poses threat to health care workers

Doctors, nurses, and even cooks in the hospital kitchen could soon be on administrative leave if they are not vaccinated - 13 On Your Side's Arlette Yousif reports

YUMA, Ariz. (KYMA, KECY) - As more and more industries require workers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, some people are undecided. Yuma Regional Medical Center (YRMC) is trying to make everyone happy while still enforcing the mandate.

In an effort to avoid layoffs, YRMC plans to put employees on administrative leave if they are not fully vaccinated by January 4. However, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) requires all employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

"Healthcare entities that get reimbursement from cms, we do have to follow that mandate because about 75% of our revenue comes from CMS, which means our employees have to have at least a first vaccine by December 5 or they have to have an approved religious or medical exemption," says Yuma Regional Medical Center Chief Human Resources Officer Diane Poirot.

While CMS says every hospital employee should be vaccinated, private insurance companies have not yet chimed in. Still, YRMC wants to keep its hard-working employees.

"What we decided to do was incentivize vaccines. So, we had some drawings for people that have vaccines. We had 10 prizes every week that we were giving to folks and to get an entry, all you had to do was be vaccinated," explains Poirot.

Currently, 80% of YRMC workers are vaccinated, meaning the future of 20% is in limbo.

One local says health care workers should be vaccinated.

"Especially, sick people go there and then you go there and if people are not vaccinated, especially the workers… Then they're gonna get sick," says Yuma resident Laura Von Bon.

Those who work remotely, which account for only about 1% of YRMC staff, are not required to be vaccinated.

The COVID vaccine mandate currently only requires first and second doses of Pfizer or Moderna or one Johnson and Johnson dose by January 4. The mandate does not include booster shots.

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Arlette Yousif

Arlette Yousif joined KYMA in November 2020 as a Multi Media Journalist. She holds a BA in Journalism with a minor in Film.

You can reach out to Arlette for at arlette.yousif@kecytv.com.

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