GRESHAM, Ore. (KPTV) – A big Oregon deadline has come and gone.
Now, all the state’s healthcare workers are vaccinated, as Gov. Kate Brown’s compliance mandate expired Monday. Those who’ve refused the vaccine have been fired.
In a video released Tuesday, Brown thanked Oregonians for getting the vaccine.
“You’ve helped to protect some of our most critical workplaces from the disruptions caused by COVID-19,” Brown said.
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Healthcare workers and teachers are among those required to be vaccinated on the job. The vast majority of those workers received the vaccine, but thousands opposed to it are now without jobs.
“It’s really emotional to not go back to what you know, to what you feel safe in,” Robyn Robinson, a Gresham nurse who didn’t get vaccinated, said. “You’re not safe anymore. To just not know one day to the next and to know you’re not the only one.”
Robinson said she’s on medical leave currently as she rushed into getting a foot surgery before losing her healthcare.
Hoping to retire with Legacy Health, Robinson said she’s spent the last nine years working in a surgical unit. For Robinson, nursing is her passion and calling from God. But He also told her to avoid getting the vaccine through prayer.
“I am no more of a threat today than I was when I was working, using all the same PPE, that was policy,” she said.
Robinson said her religious exemption was denied, leaving here disappointed and angry, with tough choices to face.
“Am I going to be able to stay here? Do I have to (uproot) and move? Do I leave my kids? Do I leave my grandkids?” Robinson wondered.
It’s something nearly 500 other Legacy Health employees might also be wondering, now that they too, have lost their jobs. Legacy Health Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer Kecia Kelly said she doesn’t take it lightly.
“We’re sad to see members of our family leave the organization, but on the flip side, there’s a sense of safety that the staff feel,” Kelly said.
According to Legacy, overall, 96% of employees chose vaccination. Initial vaccination rates within the hospital system were 85 percent.
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“Everything we’ve done, we’ve done through the lens of safety and our commitment is to be a safe place for our patients to receive care and also to be a safe place to work,” Kelly said.
The loss of so many employees has forced Legacy to temporarily consolidate some of its services, Kelly said. That includes temporarily closing some of its GoHealth Urgent care clinics.
Any Legacy workers let go are still welcome to come back, if they decide to go ahead with the vaccine, according to the hospital system.