MED MOVES: Hospital workers sue over vaccine mandate; health system sues patients

Houston Methodist staff say requirement “unlawful.” As more hospitals and health systems require staff to receive coronavirus vaccines, some are pushing back. On Friday, 117 staffers at Houston Methodist sued, saying they don’t want to be “guinea pigs.” The suit, filed in state court, claims the requirement violates medical ethics standards based on the Nuremberg Code, which bars experiments on human beings without their consent. The code emerged after World War II in response to atrocities Nazis committed against prisoners in concentration camps. According to The Washington Post, this strategy is being deployed around the country by groups resisting COVID-19 vaccination requirements. Elsewhere, the University of Louisville became the first in the state of Kentucky to require the COVID-19 vaccine of health system employees.

CNN Report: Health systems sues thousands during pandemic. Since March 2020, Community Health Systems Inc., has filed as least 19,000 lawsuits against patients over allegedly unpaid medical bills, according to an investigation by CNN. The health system, which runs 84 hospitals mostly inn the South, has pursued litigation even as other hospital chains have eased up on litigation during the pandemic. Health system officials told CNN that legal action is the last resort when patients do not pay their bills. The network’s review found that patients were taken to court for bills as small as $201 and as high as $162,000. Most did not hire a lawyer or fight the complaints, which led to default judgments against them, and CHS would then move to garnish wages to collect payment. Patient advocates told CNN that in these cases, low-income patients can be left in financial ruin, especially given the circumstances of the pandemic. The network cited documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission to report that CHS enjoyed its most profitable year in at least a decade in 2020, earning $511 million in net income and paying top executives millions of dollars in bonuses.

Hunstville Memorial CEO to retire. Steven Smith, chief executive officer of Huntsville Memorial Hospital, will retire effective Tuesday, the hospital has announced. Anne Woodard, chair of the Board of Managers, Walker County Hospital District, shared, “We are ever thankful for Steve’s leadership, his endurance and dedication, especially during the hardships over the past year through the pandemic.” In a statement, the hospital’s leadership recognized Smith for leading turnaround efforts including hiring Jim Jenkins, chief financial officer, and Linda Lawson, MSN, RN, HACP, chief nursing officer; and staff development efforts. Joe Thomason, senior vice president of Hospital Operations for Community Hospital Corporation (CHC), will serve as Interim CEO during a search for a CEO replacement.