Weeks after Minnesota nurses warn of staffing crisis, Mayo Clinic fires 700 unvaccinated workers

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The Mayo Clinic in Minnesota fired 700 unvaccinated employees just weeks after other nurses pleaded with hospital CEOs in the state to address a staffing “crisis.”

“While Mayo Clinic is saddened to lose valuable employees, we need to take all steps necessary to keep our patients, workforce, visitors and communities safe,” the clinic said in a statement, the Star Tribune reported Tuesday. “If individuals released from employment choose to get vaccinated at a later date, the opportunity exists for them to apply and return to Mayo Clinic for future job openings.”

The employees had until Monday to get vaccinated. The 700 people fired represents about 1% of the medical center’s 73,000 employees. 

The Mayo Clinic nonprofit Hospital Methodist Campus located in Rochester, Minnesota
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“While final numbers are still not available, nearly 99% of staff across all Mayo Clinic locations have complied with the required vaccination program, meaning they have been vaccinated or have received medical or religious exemptions,” the clinic added in its statement.

Just ahead of Christmas, nurses represented by the Minnesota Nurses Association held a press conference to plead with various hospital CEOs in the state to address a staffing and retention crisis. 

“To our patients, I want to say this: Nurses will be here when you need us,” Mary C. Turner, union president and a COVID-19 intensive care unit nurse, said at the Dec. 20 press conference. “To our hospital CEOs and elected officials, please hear us: Nurses need more than words, we need action to address the crisis of staffing and retention in Minnesota hospitals.”

The Mayo Clinic did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment if the medical center is also facing a staffing crisis and if the fired staff will be relocated to hospitals in need of workers. 

Staffing issues have plagued hospitals across the country as the omicron variant of the virus spikes. 

The CEO of Scripps Health in San Diego said this week that six to eight health care workers are calling the hospital per hour to report they have COVID. 

Two health care workers talking at the UCI
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“In the emergency departments, we do have patients that are literally stacked up 20 to 30 in some of the hospitals, waiting for an open bed that will hopefully be available when we discharge patients,” Chris Van Gorder, president and CEO of Scripps Health, told NBC 7 San Diego.

County officials have sent two alerts this week notifying hospitals of a temporary suspension of the emergency diversion policy, which redirects ambulances to less crowded hospitals.

“San Diego County [emergency diversion] capacity is exhausted,” read an alert sent to hospitals on Monday, NBC 7 San Diego reported. “More than 80% of all adult civilian EDs are on diversion. Facilities on diversion will be returned to open status immediately and will remain open until 0800 tomorrow morning.”

A mother of a hospitalized girl talks to a doctor in a hospital.
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In Rhode Island, the state’s department of health updated its guidance to allow COVID-positive health care workers to continue working if they have mild symptoms or are asymptomatic, and if their hospital is facing a staffing crisis. 

The state-run Eleanor Slater Hospital declared a staffing crisis and put employees with “mild symptoms” back to work. A nursing home, the Respiratory and Rehabilitation Center of Rhode Island, on Monday morning began using “using asymptomatic staff that recently tested positive” and by midmorning was no longer facing a “crisis,” according to Health Department spokesman Joseph Wendelken

Other states have called in the National Guard to help bolster hospital staff, including in New York where tens of thousands of health care workers were fired last year over not complying with vaccine mandates.

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