LANE COUNTY, Ore. -- As of Aug. 31, more than 400 PeaceHealth caregivers have been placed on unpaid administrative leave after not getting vaccinated.
According to PeaceHealth officials, this includes some who got their exemption approved.
PeaceHealth doesn't break down numbers by location, but they confirmed 270 caregivers at their four Lane County hospitals didn't get a COVID-19 vaccine. If you add clinics and other settings, that number jumps to 420.
Officials told KEZI when possible unvaccinated caregivers with approved exemptions can work 100% remotely. They can also use their paid time off hours until it runs out.
Medical assistant Christina Williams was put on unpaid administrative leave on Aug. 31, just like other unvaccinated PeaceHealth workers who can't work remotely.
"It took all I had not to just break down in front of everybody because it was really sad," Williams said. "I made it through the end of the day, and I gave my co-worker a hug and I just lost it."
Williams is now looking for a new job but said it's hard because of her vaccination status.
"A lot of the job offers that I've gotten, I've had to decline because of my vaccine status, and I feel like that's not fair because we paid to go to school, we paid to get educated," Williams said.
Even though they lost hundreds of employees, PeaceHealth officials said they remain confident in their ability to provide safe, high-quality care to their patients.
"I feel like we are indispensable, and they can just toss us to the curb whenever they wanted to, and that's not fair; that's not nice," Williams said.
In order to help hospitals that are already stretched thin with COVID-19, the National Guard is assisting with non-clinical roles. Traveling nurses have been filling in, even before the vaccine requirement took effect.