The Schleicher County Hospital District board of trustees met Monday afternoon, October 8th for a special called meeting. The board discussed the latest vaccine mandate handed down by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

The mandate requires all employees at hospitals, clinics, home health agencies and nursing homes, to have their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine no later than December 5, 2021 and to be fully vaccinated by January 4th of 2022.

Failure to comply with the mandate could result in the local hospital, clinic and nursing home losing their licenses to participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

It was noted that a number of employees in the hospital and nursing home are refusing to be vaccinated.

Board President Randy Mankin noted that loss of Medicaid revenue in the nursing home would result in the facility having to close.

Others pointed out that the loss of staff, and the inability to fill the vacancies, would have the same effect.

Hospital Administrator Paul Burke explained that Preferred Management, the company that operates the local hospital and clinic is struggling with the same decision in the facilities it operates in Texas and Oklahoma.

The board made no final decision on the matter, but decided to seek the advice of an attorney in regards to setting up a protocol by which employees could apply for religious exemptions to the vaccine mandate.

The board is slated to meet again at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, November 17th.