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Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center and its clinics are looking at possible curtailment of some services due to potential staff resignations in response to a COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

The hospital is complying with Colorado Department of Health and Environment’s mandatory COVID-19 vaccination program for hospital staff, which was announced Aug. 30.

The state health department is a regulating body for the hospital.

HRRMC CEO Bob Morasko told the Salida Hospital District board of directors Tuesday the hospital has about 80-90 employees who have not been vaccinated and are not exempt.

“They are going to have to make a decision by Sept. 30,” Morasko said.

HRRMC is offering all three of the vaccines to staff members. If staff members opt not to receive the Comirnaty (Pfizer) or Moderna vaccine by Sept. 30, they can still get the Johnson & Johnson one-shot vaccine until Oct. 31.

Morasko said there have been several resignations by those who are not going to get the vaccine.

Morasko said, “The departments are working diligently to try to come up with staffing plans.”

He said there was a possibility of cutbacks on some services such as outpatient and elective surgeries until staff can be hired to replace people who do quit.

Morasko said all of the physicians in the system are either vaccinated or exempt, but some mid-level providers might be leaving or will have to make a decision.

“In certain areas we are going to struggle a little bit, but we are going to find solutions to make it work,” he said.

Board President Debbie Farrell said, “We may be curtailing some services in a few areas if worse comes to worst, but we’re doing the best we can with the rules that we need to operate under.”

HRRMC has 679 employees who fall under the mandate.

Approximately 80.5 percent of all employees have been vaccinated.

In other business, Lesley Fagerberg, vice president of fiscal services, told the board the hospital is sitting in a very positive position in terms of revenue variance to budget.

At $142,347,423 gross patient revenue, the hospital is about $12 million over the budgeted $130, 280,255.

She said there had been an uptick in the number of emergency department visits over the summer, and surgeries were strong with 37 inpatient procedures in August and 345 outpatient procedures.

The board also heard a report by Dr. Steven Jones on orthopedic joint surgery.

Jones said one of the goals in orthopedics currently is strategies of pain control that minimize the amount of opiates and narcotics that patients are exposed to.

Board member Jeff Post said renovations at Buena Vista Health Center are progressing, and contractors are waiting on Chaffee County to decide if a change can be made to one of the building permits that might speed up the additional waiting room.

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