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CMH officials worry about impact of state vaccine requirements

Officials at both Columbia Memorial Hospital and Providence Seaside are worried about the impact of a state requirement that requires all health care workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The requirement takes effect next month. KMUN’s Jacob Lewin has details: [Scroll down to listen]

At Columbia Memorial, vice president for patient services Judy Geiger says 78% of health care workers are currently vaccinated. Except for those with religious or medical exemptions, any worker with the potential for direct or indirect patient exposure must have their shots by October 18th:

“We’re nervous about what will happen with the mandate.”

Particularly, she is concerned about employees leaving:

“The majority of the people we would possibly lose are not nurses and doctors. The majority of those people understand the science behind vaccines.” 

Geiger says those reluctant are a mix of all the other kinds of employees at CMH. While the hospital has seen a slight decrease in covid patients, those it has tend to be sicker than in the past since they can’t be transferred to over-capacity Portland hospitals. Also, county health officials believe that colder weather could lead to more cases since people will be indoors more of the time, so the hospital is trying to head off a staffing problem:

“We’re having them meet with our employee health nurse to talk about the benefits of vaccine and discuss any concern that they might have.” :08

At Providence Seaside Hospital, 80% of staff are vaccinated. Jason Plamondon is chief nursing officer:

“We’re making sure that we’re educating our employees on the importance of this, the importance of being vaccinated. Offering and making sure they know how to fill out the exemptions if that’s the pathway they want to go down. So we’re a little nervous about losing employees but we’re working really hard to make sure that we’re getting them educated and we’re getting them those exemptions.” :

Statewide 73% of health care workers have gotten their shots with younger workers being least likely to be vaccinated.

For KMUN, I’m Jacob Lewin.Local