‘It Hurts’: Legacy Health Nurse Denies Request for Religious Exemption from COVID-19 Vaccine | Local News

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KPTV) – The deadline for Legacy Health staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19 is Thursday, and some nurses who relied on a religious or medical exemption are finding that request has been denied.

PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) – Legacy Health announced Wednesday that they are requiring all of their employees, suppliers, on-site contractors and volunteers…

An email dated September 27 informed Hildi Espino that her request for a religious exception to Legacy Health’s vaccine requirement had been denied.

“Looking at this letter, of course, I was appalled that I didn’t get approved,” Espino told FOX 12.

A registered nurse, Espino says she has been with Legacy since 2015. She says she thinks taking the COVID-19 vaccine is against her religious conscience.

“I believed I had used the scriptures and created an argument that was understandable, genuine, and would be judged by my religious beliefs, and I had faith in the system,” she said.

Espino is not there and sees his request for exception refused. According to the Oregon Nurse’s Association, other Legacy nurses are reporting what they call “general vaccine exemption rejections,” with nurses at Legacy Silverton Hospital claiming that every religious exemption request in the labor department and hospital delivery was refused.

“It’s not right, what is expected of us and the huge losses we are suffering,” Espino said.

For its part, Legacy says it has completed a thorough review of all employee vaccine exception requests. In a statement, a spokesperson said, “Legacy’s number one priority is patient and employee safety. In anticipation of the potential impact on our staff, Legacy has developed a series of emergency plans at all of our facilities to minimize the impact on patient care.

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Espino, meanwhile, says hospitals were already understaffed before the pandemic and the loss of more nurses now due to a vaccination warrant will only make matters worse.

“Making such an important decision as this as a healthcare facility will have a huge impact on patient care,” she said.

The Oregon Nurses Association said nurses concerned about a denied exemption request should file a complaint with the Bureau of Labor and Industries.

FOX 12 learned more about the process Legacy uses to assess vaccine exemption requests. Espino provided a letter that Legacy emailed him. The letter says that when reviewing applications, they remove the names from the documents and then send them to a working group for review.

The letter says the task force is using the following criteria: consistency or whether the employee has received any other vaccines recently and is looking to see if the religious belief is clearly stated and specifically against the COVID-19 vaccine.

Once a request is denied, the letter states that workers have three options:

  • Either keep their job by getting vaccinated
  • Take no action and be put on leave on October 1, then fired on October 19
  • Or resign in writing.

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