In a new report from The Chartis Group, vaccine hesitancy and job burnout is still playing a major part in staff shortages at rural hospitals, where COVID-19 and the delta variant continue to overwhelm health care facilities.

From the report: “Pandemic burnout and retirement are significant factors in the current nursing crunch, but so too is the opportunity to move to a more financially lucrative position at another hospital. In our survey, 41.5 percent of respondents said better paying jobs was the No. 1 reason behind nursing departures this year.

Nursing staff shortages are beginning to have a real impact on rural hospitals’ ability to provide services. Nearly half of respondents indicated that a lack of nurse staffing has prevented their hospital from admitting patients in the last 60 days. Additionally, nearly 30 percent (26.9 percent) of respondents said that nurse staffing-related issues have resulted in the suspension of services, and another 21.5 percent indicated that is something that is being considered. Of the respondents who indicated that their facility has put a service suspension into place, 48 percent said it is surgery related (e.g., inpatient/ outpatient, elective, specialty). Access to services is already a significant barrier for rural communities, and the pandemic’s impact on staffing — particularly nursing — threatens to amplify this issue for communities that are already vulnerable.”

With the federal government’s vaccine mandate slated to take effect Jan. 4, 2022, rural hospitals are bracing for either a jump in staff vaccination rates or a mass leaving.

To read the rest of the report, click here.