- Hospital Council
- Santa Clara County hospitals
On Dec. 28, Sara Cody, MD, the Santa Clara County public health officer, released a new public health order. It builds upon the state order for all eligible health care workers to receive a booster by Feb. 1, moving up the date from Jan. 24 for those who work in high-risk settings. Those who have an exemption for the COVID-19 vaccination, who have not received their first dose of the vaccine, cannot work in high-risk areas. In addition, all health care employees must be fully vaccinated (which includes up-to-date status) by March 21. If health care employees are not fully vaccinated, they will not be able to work in high-risk areas after this date.
Hospital Council worked with our members to collect data on how this public health order would affect staffing levels. Hospital Council convened a call with Dr. Cody, and she held follow-up calls with a few members. Through the data collection, the hospital leaders shared not only the impact on their organization, but also the impact systemwide — including the collective number of employees, their roles, number of beds that would be taken out of the health care system, and how their organization has already undergone a rigorous exemption process that resulted in letting go several employees who did not meet the religious or medical exemption.
After several internal discussions with her staff and county counsel, Dr. Cody developed a waiver process. The waiver will be an attestation from the CEO, stating the hospital is experiencing a staffing challenge and needs all employees, vaccinated or not vaccinated. The hospital CEO will need to attest to the following items:
- Their organization has implemented a rigorous process along with a description of how it was implemented.
- Provide the number of exemptions (medical and religious) for the organization, along with a summary detailing the distribution of staff working with exemptions by work unit
- Confirm that the organization has done its best to move unvaccinated employees to less risky units; and staff who are returning from exposure must minimize/avoid time in shared spaces.