Hundreds of healthcare workers in Virginia have been fired or suspended over COVID-19 vaccine mandates
10/05/2021 // Arsenio Toledo // Views

Hundreds of healthcare workers in Virginia have either been suspended or have outright lost their jobs over their refusal to comply with the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine mandates.

This development comes after Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam issued a directive forcing state employees to take the experimental and deadly COVID-19 vaccines under threat of unemployment. Northam's vaccine mandate applies to more than 120,000 state employees and is just one of similar mandates passed by other Democratic governors.

The state-enforced vaccine requirement has made most of Virginia's largest health systems believe that they have the legal backing to pass their own vaccine mandates.

The University of Virginia Health System (UVA Health), which employs more than 7,000 workers, has ordered everybody to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 1.

"Anyone who is unvaccinated on Nov. 1 will face disciplinary action, including the possibility of termination," read UVA Health's statement. (Related: 175 Employees fired from multi-state healthcare system for not getting vaccinated.)

While UVA Health's employees still have time to look for work in a health system without a vaccine mandate, many other healthcare workers are not so lucky.

The Inova Health System in the Washington metropolitan area has recently fired or suspended 89 healthcare workers for "noncompliance" with the system's vaccine requirement. Inova Health System has around 19,000 employees. It is unclear whether more employees will be fired.

Inova Health System President and CEO J. Stephen Jones says that his company's mandate is "based on very strong, extremely clear guidance on the safety and efficacy of the vaccine."


He also claims that the policy has helped his company with recruitment. Jones has not provided any employment records proving that his company's labor shortage due to the vaccine mandate has been dealt with.

Valley Health, which operates hospitals in Virginia and West Virginia, fired 72 employees on Sept. 21 over noncompliance with the vaccine mandate. The health system's deadline for being fully vaccinated was on Sept. 7. The health system has about 6,000 employees.

Many healthcare systems in Virginia, especially within the state's more rural regions, have not implemented COVID-19 vaccine mandates for fear of worsening labor shortages.

"In a rural hospital, it doesn't take a whole lot of people to walk away for it to have a serious effect on your hospital," said Ballad Health CEO Alan Levine. Ballad Health has over 15,000 employees and operates hospitals and other health centers in Virginia and three other states.

Levine believes he would lose five to 10 percent of his healthcare workforce if he suddenly announced a vaccine mandate. Such a massive loss in healthcare workers would negatively affect the quality of care the health system provides to its patients. "It's a lot easier to recruit nurses to Northern Virginia than it is to Southwest Virginia," he says.

Vaccine mandates worsen labor shortage nationwide

The entire country is experiencing a staffing shortage crisis in hospitals and other healthcare settings due to the COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

In the TaraVista Behavioral Health Center in central Massachusetts, nearly one in four beds remain empty because the hospital does not have enough staff to keep an eye on patients.

Demand for in-hospital psychiatric and detox aid has skyrocketed due to the emotional stress of the pandemic lockdowns. "Parents call me crying: 'Please take my child,'" said admissions director Sheila Crowley. "It hurts to turn them down."

Hospitals all over the country are taking similar drastic measures to make sure members of their staff are not overstretched and the quality of care they provide to their patients does not significantly diminish.

In Virginia, around five psychiatric hospitals have stopped accepting new patients. One hospital in Rhode Island has shut down part of its emergency department. A major health system in Michigan is keeping around five percent of its beds vacant due to staff shortage.

TaraVista is trying to incentivize its current workers to stay. CEO Michael Krupa is investing an extra $1 million a year in pay, improved benefits, bonuses and other sweeteners for some 300 staffers. The health center has also doubled overtime pay from three percent of pay to six percent.

Krupa says this is an unprecedented increase in raises and retention bonuses. However, Krupa's hospital system still has a vaccine mandate, which goes into effect on Nov.1.

"I am hopeful we will not lose many staff," says Krupa. "But I know we will lose some."

Learn more about how vaccine mandates exacerbate the labor shortage by reading the latest articles at

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