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Nurses union says over 100 PeaceHealth nurses on unpaid leave

Yesterday was the deadline for caregivers to either be vaccinated against COVID-19 or have an approved exemption.

Posted: Sep 1, 2021 1:54 PM
Updated: Sep 2, 2021 11:42 AM

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. -- An official with the Oregon Nurses Association said roughly 111 PeaceHealth nurses are on unpaid administrative leave following yesterday's deadline for caregivers to show proof of vaccination or an exemption.

Myrna Jensen with the Oregon Nurses Association said the union supports full vaccination for its members. But they are still advocating for those who choose not to get the shot.

"We need to be there to support them as we can, to advocate for them if we need to, and to work with PeaceHealth to get some of those folks back into the hospital," Jensen said.

PeaceHealth did not confirm the number, but an official did say that as of today, between 350 and 500 caregivers remain unvaccinated in its hospitals, clinics and administrative settings.

That includes 250 to 375 unvaccinated caregivers within PeaceHealth’s four Lane County hospitals, the official said.

PeaceHealth added that a "significant number" of caregivers submitted proof of vaccination or a request for an exemption in the past 24 hours.

PeaceHealth said it would have more specific numbers by "early next week."

They said the vaccine requirement applies to all PeaceHealth employees, including front desk workers and volunteers. 

Even if an employee has a qualifying exemption, they still won't be allowed inside a PeaceHealth facility. Remote work may be an option and other accommodations may be made like a leave of absence.

PeaceHealth officials told KEZI they respect each individual's choice. But "they also care about the safety and well-being of their patients, caregivers, and communities and want to ensure that everyone working inside their facilities is vaccinated." 

PeaceHealth said their department leaders are making themselves available 24/7 right now to address staffing needs and other issues. 

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