Oregon nurses union accuses some hospitals of 'blanket' vaccine exemption rejections 

The Oregon Nurses Association is calling out hospitals around the state for "blanket" vaccine exemption rejections after hundreds of Legacy Health employees received rejection emails on Sept. 27, according to Portland, Ore., ABC affiliate KATU

The state is mandating all healthcare workers be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18. 

"At a time when hospitals are experiencing a serious staffing shortage it is crucial that health care systems do whatever is necessary to facilitate vaccination mandates while, at the same time, provide accommodation for those nurses and other staff who have received an exemption," the organization said in a press release

"Nurses are irreplaceable. You can find another space to put a hospital bed. You can’t replace a skilled nurse at the bedside," ONA President Lydia Pond, RN, told Becker's in an emailed statement.  

Arnhild Espino, a registered nurse at Mount Hood Medical Center, Gresham, Ore., told KATU she doesn't believe the group looked at each exemption request. 

"They're telling us they're taking this great care, individually reviewing each one of our requests, but yet we all receive the same form letter stating that our exemption has been declined,” Espino said.

She added she plans to appeal the exemption process since she is unable to appeal the decision. 

Legacy Health told Becker's that 94 percent of their employees are vaccinated as of Oct. 1.

"Our resolve and commitment to the safety of everyone in our care and to our staff remain firm," Legacy Health said in an emailed statement to Becker's. "We also want to retain our valuable and dedicated employees who have worked tirelessly to provide care under difficult circumstances throughout the pandemic." 

"We are taking every opportunity to answer questions and address employee concerns about the safety and efficacy of the FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccines. Our goal is to vaccinate as many of our employees as possible while respecting their personal decisions."

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