SEVERE WX : Air Stagnation Advisory View Alerts
STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Vaccine Watch: Asante says 88% of workforce is fully vaccinated, the rest have been sent home

About 490 Asante workers have received a valid religious or medical exception, Van Sickle said. However, the exception does not represent a pass for normal work status, with or without regular COVID-19 tests.

Posted: Oct 18, 2021 1:11 PM
Updated: Oct 19, 2021 9:30 AM

MEDFORD, Ore. — With the deadline for Oregon's COVID-19 vaccine mandate at hand as of Monday morning, a representative for southern Oregon hospital system Asante said that the situation remains "fluid" with their figures changing by the hour, but the medical provider has adopted a policy that keeps all unvaccinated workers home effective immediately.

Lauren Van Sickle, senior public relations specialist at Asante, said that roughly 88% of Asante's workforce had provided proof of vaccination by Monday morning, representing about 5,400 staff of the more than 6,000 total in their workforce. Another 175 are in the process of becoming fully vaccinated, and the vaccination status of nearly 300 more workers is still being verified.

"We're finding that every hour we're getting updates from employees who have been vaccinated but who have not yet turned in their information ... so we're finding that it could change by the hour, even by the minute, as to the number of employees who are vaccinated," Van Sickle said.

About 490 Asante workers have received a valid religious or medical exception, Van Sickle said. However, the exception does not represent a pass for normal work status at Asante, with or without regular COVID-19 tests. Of those employees with exceptions, 123 are now working remotely, and the others have been placed on administrative leave.

Workers on leave still receive their benefits and earned time off, such as vacation and sick leave, but the leave is not otherwise paid.


RELATED: Asante will close two of its urgent care clinics


Van Sickle said that Asante has not terminated the employment of anyone not in compliance with the mandate, but there have been 58 resignations connected to the requirement. She also indicated that the end of October will be a demarcating line for employees on leave to have either become fully vaccinated or prove significant progress toward that status, with termination of employment likely for those who do not.

"Right now we're at the point where, if they're not vaccinated, then there's a period of time where — through the end of October — they will either become fully vaccinated or start their series of vaccinations," Van Sickle said. "So it's kind of a really fluid number right now and we just don't have a firm idea of the total number of employees who will still be with our health system come the end of the month."

Traveling nurses and other contracted healthcare staff are not exempted from the requirement. The Oregon Health Authority's rule applies to "any individual paid and unpaid, working, learning, studying, assisting, observing or volunteering in a healthcare setting providing direct patient or resident care or who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients, residents, or infectious materials."

Van Sickle expressed dismay about the change in temperature between the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic and now — how healthcare workers and first responders were hailed as heroes for working to save lives in the face of the unknown, and now face an environment of anger and hostility surrounding COVID-19 and the vaccine.

"We appreciate the support that Asante's received from the community, for those caregivers who have stayed," Van Sickle said. "Patient safety really is our priority and we want to make sure when you come here that you're as safe as possible, and that means our workforce needs to be vaccinated to make sure that we're not infecting anybody who comes into our hospital for any purpose."

A spokesperson for Providence Medford Medical Center said that the hospital system in southern Oregon had a compliance rate of 96% as of Monday morning, which includes healthcare workers that are fully vaccinated or have received an exception.

"Again, we are grateful that the vast majority of our caregivers have received their vaccinations," said Julie Denney, senior communication manager at Providence. "This number changes daily as caregivers either get vaccinated, receive an approved exemption, or new caregivers join the organization and have yet to upload their vaccination information."

Unlike Asante, Providence did not indicate that workers who were granted exceptions have been placed on leave or transitioned to remote work. Caregivers who have taken no action to either prove vaccination status or receive an approved exception "will be taken off the schedule and placed on unpaid administrative leave."

The Jackson County Board of Commissioners declared a state of emergency at the end of September, anticipating mass staffing losses in education and healthcare due to enforcement of the mandate. While Asante's policy on exceptions mean that it has sidelined a not-insignificant number of employees, the news so far from local school districts and other impacted entities suggests that the fears of major upheaval were unfounded.

NewsWatch 12 spoke with several local fire agencies on Monday to see how they were faring with employees covered by the mandate. Jackson County Fire District 3 said that 99% of employees had either been vaccinated or turned in an exception. Rural Metro Fire in Josephine County, while loathe to detail specific numbers, said that they would not be losing anyone due to the mandate.

While not all firefighters are covered by the vaccine mandate, those licensed through the OHA as an emergency medical services provider (EMSP) were included in the mandate. Police officers were not covered by the mandate, with the exception of state employees like those with Oregon State Police.


NOTE: This article has been edited with updated figures from both Asante and Providence, as well as info from first responder agencies.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 392197

Reported Deaths: 5186
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah60432839
Washington42082398
Marion39986507
Clackamas32861382
Lane30179358
Jackson24956361
Deschutes23639185
Umatilla15135182
Linn14704179
Douglas13438292
Josephine10201246
Yamhill9787143
Klamath9072147
Polk8248102
Benton611138
Malheur592790
Coos5693107
Columbia433356
Jefferson420866
Lincoln363852
Union339255
Crook336356
Wasco317046
Clatsop262735
Baker220833
Tillamook217045
Hood River214537
Morrow197825
Curry192439
Harney119933
Grant108515
Lake105616
Wallowa76013
Sherman1913
Gilliam1854
Wheeler1141
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 5087907

Reported Deaths: 74561
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles152858627184
San Diego4074794340
Riverside3880835358
San Bernardino3748555967
Orange3346265736
Sacramento1684922447
Kern1578751804
Fresno1568972259
Santa Clara1522681929
Alameda1252361507
San Joaquin1076041834
Ventura1040841191
Contra Costa1038691046
Stanislaus915481417
Tulare861371099
San Francisco56931672
San Mateo56354629
Monterey52521626
Solano47693358
Santa Barbara47345553
Merced45086668
Sonoma43207412
Placer42204470
Imperial38516773
Kings35221362
San Luis Obispo31511360
Madera26233311
Shasta26113458
Butte25476318
Santa Cruz22268224
Yolo21590260
Marin18495249
El Dorado18325166
Sutter14577186
Napa13424105
Yuba1076389
Tehama10282130
Humboldt10183119
Nevada10029105
Mendocino857799
Lassen797656
San Benito782979
Tuolumne774691
Lake7046110
Amador578366
Siskiyou475855
Glenn457436
Calaveras442288
Del Norte376942
Colusa325921
Inyo256746
Plumas19397
Mono18924
Mariposa160718
Trinity99817
Modoc7725
Sierra2180
Alpine1080
Unassigned810
Out of CA00
Medford
Cloudy
42° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 42°
Brookings
Partly Cloudy
46° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 46°
Crater Lake
Partly Cloudy
42° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 42°
Grants Pass
Cloudy
42° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 42°
Klamath Falls
Partly Cloudy
27° wxIcon
Hi: 54° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 22°
More developing valley fog tonight
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events