UCHealth Pikes Peak Regional Hospital

Employees of UCHealth Pikes Peak Regional Hospital, and all UCHealth facilities, were required to receive the COVID vaccine by Oct. 1, the hospital system announced July 28.

UCHealth is terminating 119 employees statewide for failure to receive a COVID-19 vaccine or a religious or medical exemption, UCHealth Spokesman Dan Weaver said. 

Of 26,500 employees statewide, the 119 employees represent less than .5% of the workforce, Weaver said in a statement. UCHealth will be firing 54 employees in the Denver metro region, 32 in southern Colorado and 33 in northern Colorado. 

"Any of those leaving UCHealth employment are welcome — and encouraged — to re-apply for their positions should they decide to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and wish to return, " Weaver said. 

UCHealth passed the deadline for employees to get the vaccine or an exemption Friday. The mandate was announced July 28. 

Stevie Silvers, a permanent charge registered nurse who works for UCHealth out of Fort Collins, contends that others willingly left UCHealth before the deadline, avoiding termination. So the number of departed health care professionals due to the mandate could be higher.

Silvers, who received a religious exemption from UCHealth,  is part of  a group of UCHealth employees who sent a letter to the organization's administrators in opposition to the mandate after it was announced. After not taking a single day off last year, Silvers is shocked about the fact that she may now be seen as a villain for her personal beliefs. 

"Last year we were the frontline heroes, praised for the work we did and we worked through the entire pandemic not being vaccinated," she said. "I went to work, not knowing what I was going to face, not knowing the potential risk that I was bringing to myself or to my family...To go from that being our story last year and being praised and put on a pedestal -- which is not what we asked for. We simply went to work to do what we were called to do --to this year being villainized for a personal choice and personal belief has been really beyond disheartening and beyond devastating. "

Silvers said she is practicing self care, taking proper precautions at work and staying physically healthy in order to fend off the virus.   

Weaver said despite terminating employees who are not in compliance with the mandate, fewer employees are testing positive for COVID-19, which translates to an improvement in staffing. 

"No hospital wants to lose valued employees, but we know vaccines save lives and increase safety for everyone," Wevaver said. "We appreciate our staff members and providers who have chosen to be vaccinated to protect their family members, coworkers and our patients. Our dedicated health care workers are improving the health of Colorado’s communities during what has been an extremely difficult time for everyone in health care."

Silvers found Weaver's statement to be confusing and disrespectful. How can a health care organization afford to lose able-bodied medical professionals at such a crucial juncture, especially when masking and social distancing have been deemed safe accommodations without the vaccine.  

"If we were truly in the middle of a pandemic and a crisis, how could you fire anybody that's willing to show up and work," she said. "We have been critically short staffed on every unit at our hospital and in UCHealth as a system."

Another healthcare organization, Kaiser Permanente, also has a mandate in place. Kaiser has set a deadline of Dec. 1. More than 92% of all employees at Kaiser have been vaccinated. 

"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," said Kaiser Permanente spokesman Nick Roper. "We will continue to work with this group of employees to allay concerns and educate them about the vaccines, their benefits, and risks."

As of Oct. 4, just over 2,200 Kaiser employees across the U.S. failed to respond to the vaccine requirement and were put on unpaid administrative leave. They have until Dec. 1 to become vaccinated if they want to return to work, a Kaiser spokesman added.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.