Otero County Commissioners Respond to Colorado Vaccine Mandate

Description: The Otero County Commissioners Voted To Send A Letter Requesting Support to Rescind the Vaccination Mandate or Allow Regional Providers the Ability to go through Formal Written Process to Waive the Mandate.

Otero County Commissioners Respond to Colorado Vaccine Mandate

The Otero County Commissioners voted to send a letter to Colorado Governor Polis requesting support to "rescind the vaccination mandate or allow rural regional providers the ability to go through a formal written process to waive the mandate."

The Letter includes supporting letters from eight local healthcare agencies including, Arkansas Valley Regional Medical Center, Southeast Health Group, Cottonwood Ridge, Arkansas Valley Hospice, Maxim Healthcare Services, Rocky Ford Family Health Center, Fowler Healthcare Center, and Inspiration Field.

The Letter to Gov. Polis from the Otero County Commissioners Follows:

September 13, 2021 

The Honorable Jared Polis 

Colorado Governor 

136 State Capitol Building 

Denver, CO 80203-1792 

Delivered Via Email: governorpolis@state.co.us

RE: Healthcare Vaccine Mandate

Dear Governor Polis, 

On behalf of the residents of Otero County, the Commissioners of Otero County request your support to rescind the vaccination mandate or allow rural regional providers the ability to go through a formal written process to waive the mandate. 

While we fully support vaccination and vaccination education in our region, rural communities already face a disproportionate healthcare workforce shortage and this mandate will only push us into a catastrophic shortage of direct care staff and the administrative and support staff necessary to support those care providers .. Our Public Health Director, Rick Ritter, shares these grave concerns regarding the provision of health care in our rural communities should this vaccination mandate trigger a mass exodus of health care workers from their jobs. He pointed out that Otero County "already has Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) designations (HPSA Find (hrsa.gov), and worries that this will be exacerbated by the aforementioned mass exodus." 

We also fully understand the need to protect the community from unvaccinated providers, but should aforementioned staff leave provider organizations, who will be left to serve those persons in need of the care? Now is not the time to take any measures that would negatively impact our rural health care workforce. 

Instead of a one-size fits all approach, we would like to assume local control of the evidence-based precautions necessary for this pandemic. We have a highly trained and involved health department that could provide us guidance on continuous vaccination education, regular testing of unvaccinated providers and masking. 

Attached you will find letters provided by Otero County providers that tell the story of how dire our situation is in Otero County. We ask that you provide support to rescind the vaccination mandate or take into consideration this rural waiver process and the ability for county governments to advise and govern evidence-based precautionary measures.

(All Documents are Attached Below)


Healthcare Providers Letters to Gov Polis