Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals reverse COVID-19 vaccine mandate

University Hospitals employees who are not fully vaccinated by Jan. 4 will be allowed to keep their jobs. A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction against the Biden administration's health care worker mandate after several states sued. Ohio is not one of the states involved in the lawsuit. [University Hospitals]
University Hospitals employees who are not fully vaccinated by Jan. 4 will be allowed to keep their jobs. A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction against the Biden administration's health care worker mandate after several states sued. Ohio is not one of the states involved in the lawsuit. [University Hospitals]

Updated: 5:14 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021

Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals have reversed their employee COVID-19 vaccination mandates and will allow unvaccinated caregivers to keep their jobs after the federal order was blocked earlier this week by the courts, officials said in statements Thursday.

Both Cleveland Clinic and UH previously announced they would comply with the new federal rule that requires health care facilities to mandate vaccinations or risk losing their Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) funding. In a statement, UH officials say they changed course “in light of the federal court injunction issued Nov. 30 that temporarily blocks CMS from enforcing the mandate."

“Come Jan. 4, unless there is further legal action, caregivers may continue to provide patient care services regardless of their vaccination status,” UH officials said in the statement.

A Cleveland Clinic spokesperson said in a late Thursday statement that unvaccinated employees who provide direct clinical care will be tested for COVID-19 periodically.

"As a health system, we continue to strongly encourage all employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, and we are proud that the majority of our employees are already vaccinated," officials said in the statement.

A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction earlier this week keeping CMS from enforcing the vaccine mandate for health care workers which had been set to begin next week. Several states sued claiming it was unconstitutional. Ohio is not one of the states involved in the lawsuit.

The mandate requires employees of health care facilities that receive Medicare and Medicaid funding – such as hospitals, nursing homes and federally qualified health care centers - to receive the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccines by this Sunday, Dec. 5 and be fully vaccinated by Jan. 4, 2022.

MetroHealth instituted an employee vaccination mandate long before it was required by CMS, and officials said on Nov. 1 that 94 percent of employees were vaccinated. The hospital system also suspended 5 employees for not complying. 

A broader Biden administration mandate that requires large businesses to require employee vaccinations has also been temporarily blocked by a federal court. Both lawsuits will be heard in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

According to the statement from UH, the “overwhelming majority” of the hospital system’s employees are vaccinated. UH did not provide a specific number or percentage of vaccinated employees in the statement.

“Even though it is not a condition of employment at this time and CMS deadlines do not apply while the injunction remains in place, we continue asking our caregivers, in clinical and non-clinical positions, to get vaccinated or to seek an accommodation,” the statement reads.

Read the full UH statement below.

University Hospitals has been moving to implement the COVID-19 vaccine mandate required by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).  In light of the federal court injunction issued Nov. 30 that temporarily blocks CMS from enforcing the mandate, come Jan. 4, unless there is further legal action, caregivers may continue to provide patient care services regardless of their vaccination status.  
 
Even though it is not a condition of employment at this time and CMS deadlines do not apply while the injunction remains in place, we continue asking our caregivers, in clinical and nonclinical positions, to get vaccinated or to seek an accommodation.  We believe, consistent with the scientific consensus, that COVID-19 vaccines are the most effective way to protect our caregivers, patients and community. The overwhelming majority of our caregivers are vaccinated. We are grateful to our caregivers for their service.

 

Read the full statement from Cleveland Clinic:

A federal court recently issued a preliminary injunction, temporarily blocking enforcement of the COVID-19 vaccine federal mandate by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). That rule is now on hold.

In light of these developments, we are pausing the implementation of our COVID-19 vaccine policy, which required all employees and those who provide services with us to either receive the COVID-19 vaccine or an approved exemption with accommodations. However, to further strengthen our protection of employees and patients, we will put in place additional safety requirements for employees who are unvaccinated, including periodic testing for those providing direct clinical care.

As a health system, we continue to strongly encourage all employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, and we are proud that the majority of our employees are already vaccinated.

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