Over 95% of Kadlec employees complied with vaccine mandate, officials say

TRI-CITIES, Wash. — Over 95% of the workforce at Kadlec has complied with the state’s vaccine mandate by the government’s October 18 deadline, according to a spokesperson with the hospital.

In a statement sent to KAPP-KVEW, 95.7% of employees either got the COVID-19 shot(s) or have an excused medical or religious exemption.

Please note this number changes daily as caregivers get vaccinated or receive an approved exemption or new caregivers join the organization and have yet to upload their vaccination information,” part of the statement said.

READ: Monday was the last day for WA state workers to initiate vaccination

Kadlec CEO Reza Kaleel said having the mandate “really moved up our vaccine compliance.”

“Our workforce in healthcare, in order to protect the patients that we’re serving in here as well as ourselves, should get vaccinated,” Kaleel said.

Other state health officials joined Kaleel in a conference Monday morning to discuss the mandate and issues they may see, like staffing shortages.

“It’s both a goal to hire more staff but to figure out how to reconfigure services in a way where you can cover with the staff that you got,” said Cassie Sauer, the CEO for the Washington State Hospital Association (WSHA).

Dr. Timothy Dellit, an infectious disease specialist at Harborview Medical Center, said “many staff are actually pleased that we are creating an environment that is safe for them.”

According to Dr. Dellit, they received a little over 400 exemption requests, and about a third were accepted.

“Of those who had their exemption request denied, the majority went on to start the vaccination series,” Dr. Dellit said. “We know these vaccines are safe and effective. We feel very strongly that we have an obligation to create a safe environment for our patients, for our staff. We care for a lot of immunocompromised patients that can’t mount an immune response to the vaccine themselves.”

A recent study lead by Washington State University professor Dr. Dogan Gursoy surveyed 800 people nationwide each month from February 2021 to May 2021, a news release said.

It found that one-third of the study participants were unwilling to get vaccinated for coronavirus.

Dr. Gursoy said it’s “critical to identify the specific causes of vaccine hesitancy in each group so that targeted communication strategies can be developed.”

“We are using the same message for everyone and it’s not going to work because if you have a significantly different concern than I do, the message that will work for me is not going to work for you,” Dr. Gursoy said. “This approach can speed up the recovery of the overall economy and the hospitality and tourism industry.”

For Seattle Children’s Hospital’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Ruth McDonald, protecting their patients is their number one priority, and vaccinated employees do just that.

“Many of them are immunocompromised and we really feel strongly that we have to protect our patients and our families,” Dr. McDonald said.

Officials said that because the state “is so interconnected with respect to the healthcare system” that a loss of an employee could cause a ripple effect across Washington.

But here in Tri-Cities, Kadlec officials said they don’t believe operations will be “significantly affected by staff losses associated with the government vaccination mandate” and they have contingency plans in place in case that changes.

KAPP-KVEW also reached out to Trios for their plans regarding unvaccinated employees but has not yet heard back.

The full Kadlec statement is below:

Kadlec has a compliance rate of 95.7%.  This means that all of these caregivers have either been vaccinated or received a medical or religious exemption. We are grateful that the vast majority of our caregivers have received their vaccinations — an essential step toward keeping our caregivers and patients safe.

The remaining caregivers who did not submit proof of vaccination or submit an exemption request were placed on leave and we are working with each individual to help them come into compliance.

Please note this number changes daily as caregivers get vaccinated or receive an approved exemption or new caregivers join the organization and have yet to upload their vaccination information.

At this time, our operations will not be significantly affected by staff losses associated with the government vaccination mandate. We have contingency plans in place in case this changes.

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