LA JUNTA — The battle over mask and vaccination mandates is creating a potential medical care crisis for rural communities in southeast Colorado. County leaders in Otero County, along with multiple healthcare providers have contacted Governor Jared Polis about potential staffing shortages because of the vaccine mandates.
In a letter to the Governor signed by Otero County Commissioners they said, “rural communities already face a disproportionate healthcare workforce shortage of healthcare workers, and this mandate will only push us into a catastrophic shortage.”
The Arkansas Valley Regional Medical Center has already had three nurses and two other staff members leave because of the vaccine mandate. The information is also in a letter to the Governor from Lynn Crowell, Chief Executive Officer of Arkansas Valley Regional Medical Center. He said, “We are finding some of our employees are deeply offended that they must defend their right to make a choice.” There is the possibility of another 26 nurses leaving.
Multiple other healthcare providers from the Arkansas Valley, also sent letters to Colorado’s governor.
The letters to Governor Polis are not in opposition to vaccines. Most are in support of workers getting vaccinated. They believe a shortage of healthcare workers is a more significant threat.
The rural leaders are asking the Governor for local control. They want to customize COVID-19 prevention and safety measures to accommodate vaccine concerns so they can keep needed qualified staff.