St. Luke's reports the health care system had 27 employees resign due to its COVID-19 vaccine mandate, which they announced in early August would require all employees to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 1. St. Luke's has 2,979 employees.
Marla Halvorson, St. Luke's human resources director, said the vast majority of feedback from employees about the mandate was positive. She said many told St. Luke's they were grateful for the vaccine mandate, stating they said they felt safer while caring for patients and while at home.
"I know people were worried about the vaccine mandate and if it would have a dramatic negative impact, and we’re pleased that that wasn’t really the case," Halvorson said. "Not that we wanted to lose those 27 employees, because we sure didn’t. In our perfect world we would've kept every single employee.”
Halvorson said about 5% of St. Luke's employees qualified for vaccine exemption due to medical or religious beliefs, and will instead be required to test for COVID-19 weekly. She said many of the medical exemptions are pregnant women, who were given the option to wait until after giving birth to receive the vaccine. Halvorson said those employees will be vaccinated when they return from maternity leave.
When St. Luke's announced the mandate on Aug. 4, 78% of its employees were fully vaccinated.
At Essentia, employees were required to have received a first dose of vaccine by Oct. 1, and to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 1. The health care system conducted a companywide survey for employees to indicate whether they were vaccinated or had filed for an exemption from the vaccine mandate.
According to a statement from Essentia on Tuesday, nearly 98% of employees complied with the survey. Employees who did not comply with the survey will receive "intent to terminate" notices that go into effect Nov. 1. Essentia employs approximately 14,100 people in total, of which an estimated 300 did not comply with the survey and will receive the notice of intent to terminate.
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Essentia is still in the process of reviewing exemption requests, which may lead to a larger number of staff losses.
"Until we are able to review medical and religious exemption requests, and our colleagues who are denied exemptions have time to file appeals or — if they choose — get vaccinated, we will not know the true impact on our workforce," Essentia said in the statement, noting that the health care system will work "diligently" to retain its people.