Hospital CEOs: Vaccine Mandate Brings Constructions Delays, Hiring Issues

Feb. 14, 2022, 7 a.m. ·

Four people in a hospital room look and attend to a patient in a bed.
Eighty-two percent of York General Hospital staff are fully vaccinated, according to CEO Jim Ulrich. (Photo courtesy York General on Facebook)

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Monday, February 14, is the federal mandate deadline for unvaccinated Nebraska healthcare workers to get their first shot or apply for a medical or religious exemption.

Jim Ulrich is the chief executive officer of York General Hospital. He believes vaccines are effective but said he also respects his staff and their beliefs. Ulrich said he doesn’t like the mandate because it will mean more work for the hospital to find and hire new employees.

"The individuals that we may lose through this are on top of that 25 to 30 employees that we're already trying to hire," he said. "In today's work environment, it's hard to recruit people."

So far, Ulrich said about 5 employees have left because of the mandate. But, 82 percent of staff is fully vaccinated -- which meets the 80 percent federal threshold.

In south-central Nebraska, Marty Fattig, the chief executive officer of Nemaha County Hospital, said the mandate is nine months too late and unnecessary now.

"I think if they would have mandated the vaccines for health care workers back when the vaccines first came out, maybe we would have gotten more people vaccinated across the state," Fattig said. "But since they didn't, now we're not going to change people's minds."

Nemaha County Hospital delayed their plans to expand their lab and surgical sterilization rooms, because the mandate also affects contracted construction workers. Fattig said they can’t grant exemptions to contractors. It would have to come from their employers, and they may choose to work somewhere else, where they don’t have to put up with vaccine mandates.

Editor's Note: Jim Ulrich of York General Hospital is a member of Nebraska Public Media’s Foundation Board.