On Tuesday, Geitner also criticized UCHealth for firing unvaccinated staff, who represent less than 1% of the health system’s workforce, according to The Denver Post. Hospital systems across the country have required vaccines for workers this fall and began to suspend or terminate positions in the past week.
Kaiser Permanente, one of the largest nonprofit health care companies in the U.S., has suspended more than 2,200 employees who haven’t yet been vaccinated or requested an exemption, according to ABC 7, an ABC News affiliate in Los Angeles. The workers, who make up less than 2% of the company’s workforce, have been placed on unpaid administrative leave.
When Kaiser Permanente announced its vaccine mandate in August, 78% of employees had been vaccinated. Now, 92% have been vaccinated, ABC 7 reported. The 2,200 workers placed on leave have until Dec. 1 to get a shot.
“This number is declining daily, and as employees respond, they may return to work,” the company wrote in a statement. “We hope none of our employees will choose to leave their jobs rather than be vaccinated, but we won’t know with certainty until then.”
Health systems are putting other vaccinate-related requirements in place as well. Ochsner Health, which is the largest nonprofit health care system in Louisiana, announced that it will charge workers $200 more per month for their unvaccinated spouses or partners who are covered by the hospital group’s insurance policies, according to CBS News.
The health system called the new surcharge a “cost adjustment” for those who are unvaccinated, citing the high cost of treatment for patients with COVID-19. The new rule will take effect in 2022.
Ochsner has required all of its 32,000 employees to get vaccinated or request an exemption. Employees with spouses or partners who want to remain unvaccinated can pay the fee or seek health insurance elsewhere, the health system said.
“This is not a mandate as non-employed spouses and domestic partners can choose to select a health plan outside of Ochsner Health offerings,” Warner Thomas, the health system’s president and CEO, said in a statement.
“The reality is the cost of treating COVID-19, particularly for patients requiring intensive inpatient care, is expensive,” he said. “We spent more than $9 million on COVID care for those who are covered on our health plans over the last year.”