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Healthcare officials discuss vaccinations and staffing concerns

Posted at 10:56 PM, Oct 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-14 02:21:43-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Healthcare staffing continues to be a topic of concern amid the pandemic. With even more concerns surrounding statewide mandates and what that could mean for the industry as a whole.

“It is something that is certainly weighing on all of our minds as we continue to plug our staffing gaps with whatever resources we can put our hands on,” said Bruce Peters Ceo and President of Mercy Hospital Bakersfield.

Peters said some of those resources including the national guard and state traveling agencies will soon be pulled with a couple of teams leaving at the end of this week.

“We have two strike teams that are acting as their medics within the national guard ranks. And that means they’re doing a lot of that supportive care in cooperation and coordination with our nurses. And we have a couple EMTs that are working within the emergency room,” said CEO and President of Mercy Hospital Bakersfield, Kenneth Keller.

This comes during a nationwide shortage of healthcare workers as officials said those who remain are stretched thin during the pandemic.

“We really do need the nursing schools to increase their enrollment which nationally looks like there’s fewer people applying and the likely suspect is the pandemic,” said Peters.

Many feared that this shortage would worsen as strict mandates were forced throughout the state last month. But, in Kern County that was not the case.

That’s according to two local hospitals. Adventist Health Kern County released a statement to 23ABC.

“90% of our employees are vaccinated and the other 10% of our employees received medical or religious exemptions. We had two nurses leave due to the mandate. "

This comes after Governor Newsom mandated that all healthcare workers in the state be vaccinated by September 30th or risk losing their jobs this lead to several protests last month.

 “The hypocrisy is real. They painted us as the hometown heroes last year. And now they want us to get the vaccine or were out.”  said Josh Lee, an X-ray tech.

Since then, officials with Dignity, Mercy, and Memorial Hospitals told 23ABC in part, "nearly 90% of our employees are now vaccinated, partially vaccinated, or have received an approved medical or religious exemption, and that number is growing every day."

For that other 10%, Jessica Neely with the hospital said those workers are in the process of getting one or the other as they continue to work while wearing masks and getting tested, which is different from the mandate put in place by the governor.

Peters added that this is a tough career to be in especially during these times.

“It’s a profession that’s so incredibly important,” said Peters. “That is kind of in maybe a new paradigm that we are maybe gonna have to look at as a community as a state as a nation about how we continue to staff.”