Baker County declares emergency, requests medical staff assistance

Baker County – (Information provided by Baker County)  The Baker County Board of Commissioners declared a local emergency Wednesday. The declaration  states the Baker County Incident Management Team determined beginning October 18, Baker  County will be unable to provide for pre-hospital emergency response and Saint Alphonsus  Medical Center will be unable to provide basic hospital care as a result of staffing shortages  when the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for medical staff goes into effect.  

The declaration requested the Governor address the state’s vaccine mandates, “to prevent  further erosion of the vital public health and safety workforce”, or provide resources necessary  to protect the citizens and visitors of Baker County, along with users of the state highway  system.  

“The impending deadline for all healthcare workers to be fully vaccinated by October 18 has led  to a series of difficult choices. We can’t head into a situation where there are not enough  responders available to handle medical events throughout the County, including those that  happen on the highways and interstate. We also cannot accept a situation where the hospital  doesn’t have sufficient staffing to provide basic hospital care. Our responsibility is to the health  and safety of our community, and we have to come up with options for the inevitable times when  accidents or health emergencies will occur,” Commissioner Mark Bennett said.  

The declaration outlines how the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has exhausted many providers  of core public services, including first responders and healthcare providers. The recent rise in  COVID-19 cases has further strained those services. The mandate for health care workers to be  fully vaccinated by October 18 is resulting in “significant numbers of the exhausted workforce” to  leave employment, resulting in a situation where there will not be enough remaining personnel  to provide the basic level of pre-hospital emergency care and hospital care that’s needed.  

County Commissioners have pledged to continue working with state and local partners on  solutions to maintain health services throughout the county.