Appling HealthCare, like other small hospitals around the country, would see the impact of this new mandate announced on November 16 almost instantly because it affects all the ones that accept Medicare and Medicaid. Most of these hospitals, including Appling Healthcare, are struggling along understaffed anyway. If more employees choose to leave because of the mandate, the result could well be catastrophic. Administrators of Appling Healthcare are worried about the new mandate that has a deadline of January 4. The mandate with the November 22 deadline to be vaccinated that affects about 4 million federal workers across the country is not the primary concern. That one has been put on hold by the court system.

Andrea Graham, Interim CEO of Appling HealthCare, stated, “This is a federal mandate issued by the centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. If we don’t comply, we will lose Medicare and Medicaid funding and our hospital would have to close its doors.

Like most rural hospitals in Georgia and throughout the country, we were already understaffed. If we lose a large number of employees because of this mandate, we would have to shift remaining employees to focus only on acute critical care and our nursing home. Outpatient services would be significantly reduced.”

She says they’ve advocated for everyone to get vaccinated, and they’ll continue to do it as well.

The Biden-Harris Administration is requiring COVID-19 vaccinations of eligible staff at health care facilities that participate in the Medicare and Medicaid Programs. CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) announced the new mandate on November 4; it would require all eligible staff to have the first of two doses by December 6 and the final dose by January 4 of 2022. No staff member can provide care after January 4 if he is not vaccinated. Facilities that fall under this regulation must establish a plan to carry out the mandate.

The White House claims to have evidence that vaccine requirements work. Organizations with such conditions saw their vaccination rates rise by more than 20 percentage points and their fully vaccinated workers rise above the 90 percent level.

The following groups will be required to comply: Ambulatory Surgical Centers, Hospices, Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly, Hospitals, Long Term Care facilities, Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facilities, Intermediate Care Facilities for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities, Home Health Agencies, Comprehensive Outpatient Rehabilitation Facilities, Critical Access Hospitals, Clinics (rehabilitation agencies, and public health agencies as providers of outpatient physical therapy and speech-language pathology services), Community Mental Health Centers, Home Infusion Therapy suppliers, Rural Health Clinics/Federally Qualified Health Centers, and End-Stage Renal Disease Facilities.

This list includes almost every facility that provides any type of healthcare across the state. No one can escape if under current conditions. Eliminating those facilities would shut down healthcare almost completely in rural areas unless healthcare workers agree to be vaccinated. January 4 is only a little over a month away.