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COVID-19 vaccine mandate update

COVID-19 vaccine mandate update

Media Contact: Karina Rusk

Note: The message below from Salinas Valley Health President/CEO Pete Delgado was sent out on Monday, September 27 to all employees. We are sharing it here as we strongly believe that the community should be aware of our efforts to respond to state and federal mandates directing all healthcare workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Our healthcare system, and our industry, are at a critical inflection point as we work to protect the safety of our patients, staff, and the community. In addressing the very important issue of state-mandated COVID vaccinations, we have worked to balance many considerations—legal, ethical and medical—all with the guiding principle of doing what is right and in the best interest of our employees and patients.

I am so proud that our organization has reached a confirmed vaccination rate greater than 96%! That is excellent! A limited number of employees (approximately 3% of our workforce) have come forward requesting exemptions from the state vaccine mandate. We have offered to work with each of these employees on an individual basis in an effort to reach a reasonable accommodation. It is important that all staff understand what we are doing, and why.

Science, law, and a fierce desire to ensure the safety of everyone on our campus have led us to the determination that we cannot allow unvaccinated employees to work in close proximity to others. We reached this conclusion after a great deal of discussion and thought. Although some people will disagree with this decision, we stand firm that we are doing the right thing for our patients, the community, and each other. Getting vaccinated is the key to stopping the spread of this pandemic and healthcare organizations must unequivocally support that step.

I am profoundly appreciative that many unvaccinated employees want to continue to serve our patients, and I understand some employees may believe they can still do so, even though not vaccinated. We have balanced their wishes against the commitment to our mission to provide quality care to our patients, and to protect the safety of our patients, staff, and visitors. I am therefore confident that our decision is the right one from a legal, ethical and medical standpoint.

This is a challenging time for everyone, and as I have said many times, I continue to be so very impressed by the caliber of this exceptional staff. Thank you for all you do. Please know this moment in time will pass, we will face new challenges that we cannot imagine now, and we will evolve into an even stronger organization than we are today. Great opportunity awaits to further our mission to improve the health of our community. I look forward to our journey.

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