Reston Hospital Center does not back vaccine mandate for staff

As COVID-19 cases surge nationwide and staffing shortages cut through multiple industries, Reston Hospital Center says it has no immediate plans to institute a vaccine mandate for staff.

HCA Healthcare Inc., the Nashville-based hospital system that owns RHC, StoneSprings Hospital Center in Ashburn and Dominion Hospital in Falls Church, says the vaccine mandate was paused after a federal court in November ruled that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services could not require health care workers to get vaccinated.

“While a majority of our staff are vaccinated, we continue to strongly encourage our colleagues to be vaccinated as a critical step to protect individuals from the virus,” HCA Healthcare’s communications director Suzanne Kelly told Reston Now.

Kelly declined to release Reston Hospital Center’s vaccination rates and specific statistics about staff shortages at the Reston location.

A majority of health systems in the region do require staff to get vaccinations, especially as COVID-19 variant Omicron sweeps through the area. The Washington Business Journal recently rounded up how area hospitals are handling the issue. According to that analysis, most hospital systems are leaning toward vaccine mandates. That’s despite an increasing number of staff shortages and less manpower, partly due to COVID-19 infection rates and other industry-related factors.

Other area hospitals require mandates as a condition of employment. Inova, for example, has preserved its vaccine mandate, which it sees as a tool to promote recruitment and retention.

Reston Hospital Center offered the following statement in response to questions about how staffing shortages are being handled and the extent of the staffing shortage:

We are investing in our colleagues by continually reviewing the nursing market and making strategic pay adjustments, implementing additional incentive and recognition programs, and by providing a stable workplace by not laying off our medical staff during the pandemic as did some of our competitors. To support immediate staffing shortages, we are also recruiting nurses from other states and even other countries to come to Virginia to support our nurses and help ensure we are providing top quality care to our patients during this unprecedented time. We are attracting new nurses to work at our facilities through aggressive recruitment efforts including sign-on bonuses and referral bonuses in strategic areas and specialties. We also continue to partner with bricks-and-mortar colleges and universities, and online programs, to attract more people to choose careers in healthcare. This will build a future pipeline to fill long-term healthcare staffing needs.

While there is no simple solution to the complex staffing challenges facing our nation and the healthcare industry, we believe through this combination of tools, and the unique opportunities we can provide our nurses and colleagues as of the largest healthcare companies in the nation, we will be able to attract and retain a world-class workforce to meet the needs of the communities we serve now and in the future.

Currently, the hospital system’s most critical vacancies are for nurses and imaging colleagues in its new standalone emergency room, Tyson’s Emergency, which is opening soon.

The county and Fairfax County Public Schools require vaccines for staff.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on whether the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services can institute a vaccine mandate after the agency filed an appeal. The appeal comes after a federal court granted 10 states’ requests to preclude the centers from enforcing their vaccine mandate in late November.

Photo courtesy of Reston Hospital Center

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