Montana hospitals to avoid COVID-19 vaccination deadline due to federal court ruling

Sidney Health Center
Sidney Health Center(Sidney Health Center)
Published: Nov. 30, 2021 at 7:13 PM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - While North Dakota and other Republican-led states blocked the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for health care workers Monday, Montana was still waiting for an answer to its lawsuit.

The state was granted an injunction Tuesday evening in district court, which was a big win for concerned employees who felt their personal freedom to take the vaccine was violated.

On November 4, President Joe Biden signed an executive order requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for health care staff that participate in Medicare and Medicaid programs. More than 50% of Sidney Health Center’s revenue comes from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, with CEO Jen Doty estimating that number at $65 million a year. That is why she made the tough decision to require vaccinations.

“To exclude this patient population, these individuals on these programs would be a disservice to our community. We would not be fulfilling our mission to provide services if we were to exclude Medicare and Medicaid patients,” said Doty.

On Monday, a federal judge partially blocked the mandate for 10 states including North and South Dakota. The ruling made Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen confident in his own lawsuit.

“I think the ruling we got out of the Missouri litigation is encouraging. Unfortunately, that was just limited to those states, so I’m hopeful we get a similar result in our case, and soon,” said Knudsen.

As of Tuesday, Doty said about 70% of workers are currently vaccinated at Sidney Health Center. She said she feels such a mandate would further impact an already short supply of workers.

“We’re in a difficult position of complying with conditions of participation and recognizing our employees’ desire to have a personal choice in their decisions regarding their health care,” said Doty.

If an injunction is granted to the state of Montana, Doty said they plan on lifting the vaccination mandate.

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