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Idaho hospitals not concerned about losing staff over vaccine requirement

"I have zero concern of not having enough employees because of a policy we have had in place for 10 years."

BOISE, Idaho — Note: This story is an excerpt from a Thursday article on Idaho doctors warning about a coming COVID-19 surge and the need for more Idahoans to get vaccinated. To read the full story, click here.

Health leaders at Saint Alphonsus, St. Luke's and Primary Health say they are not concerned with COVID-19 vaccine requirements for staff causing employee shortages.

All three hospitals have required their employees get vaccinated against COVID-19 by a September deadline in order to keep their jobs, although there are some medical and religious exemptions available. A majority of employees are already vaccinated, officials say.

The doctors said that most of their employees back that policy, and that they are willing to speak with and answer questions of those who have reservations about the vaccine. Ultimately, however, all three said that policy is the right thing to do to keep patients and staff safe.  

St. Luke's Health System Chief Physician Executive Dr. Jim Souza said hospital workers have "a sacred trust" with patients and their families, and with one another. Some St. Luke's staff members will likely choose to look for work elsewhere rather than get vaccinated, he said, but so be it.

"We'll do whatever it takes: Reduce elective work, move staff to more needed areas, but we will not sacrifice safety. Ever," he said.

Peterman agreed, noting that Primary Health, like St. Luke's and Saint Alphonsus, already has a vaccine requirement that includes a yearly flu shot. 

"I have zero concern of not having enough employees because of a policy we have had in place for 10 years," he said. "I took the Hippocratic oath to do no harm. And in the position I am in, absolutely it makes sense. It is part of our culture that we require our employees to be vaccinated to keep the patients safe and to keep ourselves safe."

 

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