Last Straw

It seems some healthcare providers are walking away from their jobs to maintain their freedom. This story about the little hospital in Dayton, Washington is a tearjerker, but on point. The State of Washington has mandated that they be immunized against Covid 19. This is the last straw for some dedicated, long-time workers.

Maybe we should look at some of the other straws that are in the pile before we blame this last one for breaking the back. Healthcare, especially in rural towns can be a grind.

I have written before about all the other required immunizations in this profession. We must have the Hepatitis B series and are tested regularly for our immunity. There are also the tests for measles, mumps, rubella, Tuberculosis, and varicella. If you are not immune, you get the shot or you’re not working there anymore. Tests for HIV and Hepatitis C are also required by some employers. Most also require the annual flu vaccination. But I guess this Covid shot is the last straw.

There’s the requirement to follow the federal Health Care Privacy regulations, HIPPA. If you chat with your neighbor in the grocery store about the patient that you cared for that day in the hospital or nursing home, you just broke a federal law.

I was working in a small-town ER, talking with a crying woman about her situation when a man pulled the curtain back and said loudly, “Is Jenny in there?” I stepped out quickly to protect her privacy and asked him to come out in the hall. “I saw her rig out front and I was just wondering if she was OK.” He was upset that I could not confirm or deny if “Jenny” was there or of she was OK without her permission, and he’d just have to take a seat. “I’m just worried about her, I’m not prying!”

I could mention the long hours and frequent demands for more of your time that short-staffed small-town hospitals suffer. But that would get me to the lower pay rural providers get, and that would start to sound mercenary. Most the health care workers I know in small towns love their communities and the work they do. A living wage is all that they ask.

Nursing home workers know they are in one of the most regulated work environments. And their pay often comes in below the living wage. Most I know love their charges as they do their families. Even the ones, patients or family, that cuss at them. But it can be a burden.

But now, this Covid vaccination, portrayed by many in the media is so dangerous and evil, it has become a reason to fall on your sword. I can think of so many reasons to walk away. It’s hard to believe this vaccine mandate deserves all the blame. But we love to blame, don’t we?

It’s a noble thing to take a stand, and mandates, government regulations might just be the stand you want to take. Like paying your grazing fees was for Cliven Bundy. He’s a hero to some. But that would just start another argument and I’m not in the mood.

Folks are quitting their jobs all over the place. For some the childcare has become unavailable or unaffordable. For others the service job they used to have just hasn’t bounced back. But Idaho unemployment is 2.9%, one of the lowest in the nation. We have in fact, a labor shortage in Idaho.

Maybe some of those folks leaving their jobs in Washington because of that state vaccination mandate, will want to come to Idaho for work. They are welcome, I am sure. No mandates here to break your back. And we are still having our share of sick folks. Our number are down a bit, but with 800 new cases and 17 deaths a day, there’s plenty of work for you. Quite a business model, this pandemic.

About ddxdx

A Family physician, former county coroner and former Idaho State Senator
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