Oregon

Though final numbers won’t be known for months, Oregon’s vaccine mandate seems not to have had the devastating impact on hospitals that some feared.

Legacy Health has begun terminating 491 employees who refused to get vaccinated, and weren’t granted medical or religious exemptions. That amounts to about 3.5% of total employment at the Portland-based organization.

Oregon Health & Science University said it will terminate 261 employees, or just 1.1%

Salem Health has put 45 workers on leave, less than 1% of the total.

PeaceHealth in Oregon convinced all but 4.8% of its staff — 264 of its 5,400 — to get vaccinated.

Kevin Mealy, an organizer with the Oregon Nurses Association, said it’s time for Kate Brown and other proponents of the mandate to declare victory.

“The vaccine mandate, combined with nurse-led education, worked,” he said. “It’s easy to dwell on the hold-outs and the anger and the politics. But the mandate helped get a lot of healthcare workers vaccinated. That will make the workplace safer.”

On the other hand, with staffers already emotionally and physically exhausted by the pandemic, hospitals can ill afford to force out a single worker.

“We’re facing a long-term staffing crisis,” Mealy said. “Losing  just a handful of nurses will exacerbate that.”

The ultimate toll in terms of lost jobs won’t be known for some time. Some health systems, like Kaiser Permanente, are giving employees months to get their shots and return to their jobs. As of last week, Kaiser said 89% of its 11,100 employees in Oregon and Southwest Washington had been vaccinated. Another 1,000 were seeking either religious or medical exemptions from the vaccine requirement.

Kaiser has granted most of those exemption requests, a Kaiser spokesman said. It is allowing employees until Nov. 30 to get fully vaccinated.

Providence Health & Services, the largest health system in the state, said Wednesday that 98% of its 23,000 Oregon employees were “in compliance” with the mandate. Unlike most of its peer organizations, Providence refused to break out how many of those employees were fully vaccinated and how many were seeking exemptions.

The approximately 460 Providence employees who failed to submit proof of vaccination or exemption request were put on leave. But officials warned that “this number changes daily.”

The vaccine mandate was hugely divisive. Thousands of healthcare workers felt the demand was an invasion of their freedom. Others resented the holdouts for endangering their health.

“I’ve received quite a few thoughtful letters from employees who were really having trouble with this requirement,” said Sonja Steves, senior vice president for human resources at Legacy. “They thought it was invasive, some thought it was dangerous. I’ve heard from just as many who are very thankful. That gives them a degree of reassurance.”

“We believe that they deserve that,” Steves added. “They deserve to come to work in a safe place. I have to say that’s been gratifying.”

Source : https://www.msn.com/en-us/health/medical/hundreds-on-leave-or-fired-over-vaccine-mandate-at-oregon-hospitals-but-most-complied/ar-AAPOAzJ

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