Deadline Nears For Vax Requirement Of All Oregon Healthcare Workers
Earlier this month, the Oregon Health Authority adopted a temporary rule requiring all health care workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The state's deadline to be fully vaccinated is October 18.
Note: This story has been revised. An earlier version included the deadline date imposed by PeaceHealth Network and not the Oregon Health Authority's date.
The largest hospital in the Willamette Valley has lost some caregivers. Dr. James McGovern is Chief Medical Officer at PeaceHealth RiverBend. He says across their network of hospitals, 5% to 10 % of healthcare staff have opted not to be vaccinated.
“This is disappointing for us, in that a lot of these staff members have been with us for a long time,”
he said.” “They have been taking excellent care of the community. And it’s sad to have the relationship end this way.”
McGovern says the vaccine mandate is the right decision for patients, staff and the community. He adds health care staff is stretched thin but --thus far-- they have not had to transfer any COVID patients out of emergency departments due to lack of hospital beds.
PeaceHealth RiverBend Medical Center has about 5,545 employees and reportedly around 500 remain unvaccinated as of Tuesday morning. PeaceHealth's deadline for getting at least a first shot is 11:59 pm August 31.
Governor Kate Brown’s temporary rule under an emergency basis defines “healthcare setting” as “any place where … physical or behavioral health care is delivered.” This includes not only hospitals and medical clinics, but also “nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, adult foster homes, residential facilities, residential behavioral health facilities, pharmacies, hospice, vehicles or temporary sites where health care is delivered (for example, mobile clinics, ambulances), and outpatient facilities, such as dialysis centers, health care provider offices, behavioral health care offices, urgent care centers, [and] counseling offices,” as well as chiropractic or acupuncture clinics. The term “healthcare setting” does not include health care provided in a private home, a public or private school, or any place where the state government controls healthcare activities.
The temporary rule requires Oregon “employer[s] of healthcare providers or healthcare staff, contractors or responsible parties to “have and follow a policy” for
- requesting and obtaining proof of vaccination from every healthcare provider and healthcare staff person;
- requiring COVID-19 testing “on at least a weekly basis” for healthcare providers and healthcare staff persons who are unvaccinated or whose vaccination status is not known; and
- “maintaining documentation of weekly COVID-19 test results for any healthcare provider or healthcare staff person who is unvaccinated or has an unknown vaccination status.”
These employers have until September 30, 2021, to create and implement such policies. In addition, unvaccinated healthcare providers and healthcare staff will have until September 30, 2021, to get vaccinated or thereafter undergo periodic COVID-19 testing. Any person who violates the rule on or after the compliance deadline may face civil penalties of $500 per day per violation. Oregon employers in the healthcare setting may want to begin implementing this policy and communicate the requirements of the temporary rule to their healthcare providers and healthcare staff to remain compliant with the temporary rule.
Under the temporary rule, “healthcare providers and healthcare staff,” include individuals—either paid or unpaid—who work, learn, assist, observe, or volunteer in a “healthcare setting” and who are “providing direct patient or resident care” or are potentially exposed to patients, residents, or infectious materials. This definition includes not only healthcare providers in the traditional sense (e.g., physicians and nurses), but it also includes “unlicensed caregivers” and employees working in clerical, security, billing, and administrative functions, among others, in healthcare settings.
For employers subject to this temporary rule, Oregon law (ORS 659A.306) makes it unlawful to require employees “to pay the cost of any medical examination or the cost of furnishing any health certificate” as a condition of continued employment, unless required by a collective bargaining agreement, state or federal law, or city or county ordinance. (The National Law Review)