By Michelle Price
Special to the UCBJ
COOKEVILLE – With the announcement of Thursday’s Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) emergency regulation requiring COVID-19 vaccination of eligible staff at health care facilities that participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs, Cookeville Regional Medical Center (CRMC) is in full planning mode. Currently only 63% of CRMC staff is fully vaccinated, according to CRMC Chief of Strategy Ricky Shelton.
The emergency regulation states, “Facilities covered by this regulation must establish a policy ensuring all eligible staff have received the first dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine or a one-dose COVID-19 vaccine prior to providing any care, treatment or other services by Dec. 5, 2021. All eligible staff must have received the necessary shots to be fully vaccinated – either two doses of Pfizer or Moderna or one dose of Johnson & Johnson – by Jan. 4, 2022. The regulation also provides for exemptions based on recognized medical conditions or religious beliefs, observances or practices. Facilities must develop a similar process or plan for permitting exemptions in alignment with federal law.”
According to Shelton, there has not been any prevalence in areas of the hospital where there are unvaccinated employees.
Currently CRMC is already facing a nursing shortage with the hospital Board of Trustees approving a plan earlier this fall to recruit nurses from other countries to fill the approximately 70 empty nursing positions.
It is currently unknown how this emergency regulation will impact CRMC staffing.