LANE COUNTY, Ore.- Tensions are rising between hospital administrators and hundreds of health care workers who refuse to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
PeaceHealth officials said if workers don't get the COVID-19 vaccine or give a qualified exemption by August 31st, they will be placed on unpaid, administrative leave. This means no more pay unless they can get exemptions for health or religious beliefs.
According to hospital officials, there are about 5,400 PeaceHealth workers in the state and 85%, are either fully or partially vaccinated.
That leaves roughly 810 workers in Oregon that could end up on unpaid leave. PeaceHealth officials said this is in accordance with Governor Brown's mandate for health care workers.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Oregon Nurses Association said they want all workers to get vaccinated, but there could be around 300 staff members at Riverbend alone who could be put on leave.
A Nurse Practice Consultant for ONA, Matt Calzia, said staffing at Oregon hospitals was already bad before the pandemic began. Now, it's about to get a lot worse.
"Now the hospitals are doing crisis staffing models and it's because we're in a crisis and it's fallen on the front-line staff and it's going to get worse over the next couple of weeks per the predictions and it's very hard," said Calzia.
Calzia said front-line workers are tired and that conditions are not good right now. He also said nurses want more answers, and that these conditions are not what most nurses signed up for.
"We want some answers and accountability on how conditions were allowed to deteriorate this bad, 18 months into a pandemic. And I think all the hospitals in the state and the regulatory agencies are going to have to answer to these nurses," said Calzia.
KEZI 9 News is still waiting for an official statement from the ONA. We will keep you updated with the latest information.