Vaccine Mandates Hit Amid Historic Health-Care Staff Shortage
Carey Goldberg and Jonathan Levin 1 day ago

(Bloomberg) -- Nearly one in four beds lies empty at TaraVista Behavioral Health Center in central Massachusetts -- not for lack of patients, but for lack of staff.

Even before the pandemic, nurses and lower-paid aides were in perennially short supply, but the 116-bed facility could still run full, said Chief Executive Officer Michael Krupa. At similar hospitals around Massachusetts, hundreds of beds can’t be filled, and “the reason is exclusively staff,” he said.

What some are calling the worst U.S. health-care labor crisis in memory is sharpening concerns about attrition from resistance to vaccine mandates -- even in the medical mecca of Massachusetts, where Covid cases remain well within hospital capacity. About 16% of American hospitals had critical staffing shortages as of Oct. 1, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The uptick initially coincided with a surge in Covid-19 hospitalizations, but shortages have persisted even as the virus ebbs, suggesting other factors.

“We don’t have a single position we can afford to lose right now,” Eric Dickson, president of UMass Memorial Health, told Bloomberg Radio last month. “I have areas that have a 50% vacancy rate. And God forbid we lose any more.”

In recent weeks, worker shortages have prompted extreme measures, even in regions that aren’t Covid hot spots. In Virginia, five state psychiatric hospitals had to stop accepting patients. A lack of nurses forced Rhode Island Hospital to close part of its emergency department. And a major Michigan hospital chain says 5% of its beds can’t be filled for lack of staff...