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Last month the Boston Globe ran a story entitled Mass. hospitals prepare to fire hundreds of employees who refuse COVID vaccine.

At that time, vaccine deadlines for most hospitals were nearly up and thousands (not hundreds) of hospital employees had yet to comply with vaccine mandates.

At Mass General Brigham, the state’s largest hospital, approximately 4,000 employees were unvaccinated. Beth Israel Lahey Health had 3,000 employees reluctant to receive the shot.  And UMass Memorial Health Care had 1,300 employees avoiding the jab. 

That’s a total of 8,300 hospital workers among just three hospitals.

So it isn’t much of a surprise that Massachusetts is now facing a dire shortage of hospital employees.

The problem was acknowledged by a number of hospital executives in a recent press release from Governor Baker’s office.  Here are just a few quotes:

[W]e are now seeing significant strain on hospital capacity due largely to workforce shortages. – Steve Walsh, President and CEO of Mass. Health & Hospital Association

There is a critical staffing shortage across the healthcare system, largely due to staff shortages stemming from the pandemic.  This staffing shortage has also contributed to the loss of approximately 500 medical/surgical and ICU hospital beds across the Commonwealth. – Kayla Rosario-Munoz, Executive Office of Health and Human Services.

The current strain on hospital capacity is due to…significant workforce shortages.” – Marylou Sudders, Secretary of Health and Human Services

There are thousands of healthcare jobs available across the state for people of all backgrounds and education levels.  And we need you.  – Christine Schuster, President & CEO of Emerson Hospital

In an effort to mitigate the staff shortages, Governor Baker along with Margret Cooke, acting commissioner of the department of health, issued COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Order No. 2021-14 which orders all licensed hospitals to

reduce non-essential, non-urgent scheduled procedures that may require the use of bed capacity and/or services…no later than November 29, 2021.

According to the press release, the health department

Defines non-essential, non-urgent scheduled procedures as procedures that are scheduled in advance because the procedure is not a medical emergency and where delay will not result in adverse outcomes to the patient’s health.

Additional measures include “extend[ing] temporary licensure for healthcare workers and expedit[ing] licensing processes.”