WENATCHEE — Confluence Health, which employs nearly 4,400 people in medical and related fields, says it will require all health providers and staff to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 18.
Confluence managers told all staff by memo on Tuesday that they would require “all providers and staff, regardless of work location or role in the organization, to get the COVID-19 vaccine,” marketing and communications director Andrew Canning said in an email Wednesday.
The announcement puts the Wenatchee-based hospital and clinic health system in line with the emergency proclamation issued Monday by Gov. Jay Inslee, which makes full vaccination by Oct. 18 a condition of employment for all health workers across the state.
“We believe this is a necessary step in order to keep patients and team members safe, and to ensure our communities have full confidence in the safety of their care environments,” Canning wrote. “We also know that vaccination is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and associated severe illness, hospitalization and death.
“No patient should have to worry about getting COVID-19 from a health care provider and the vaccine is our path forward.”
Canning said Confluence directors took the step “in accordance with Gov. Inslee’s mandate.” The health system’s staff already have respectable rates of full vaccination — 72 percent among all Confluence employees, and 94 percent among physicians.
However, Confluence has struggled to hire and retain clinical staff, including nurses and certified nursing assistants, since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in spring 2020. Some health workers have resisted calls for COVID-19 vaccination.
But vaccination mandates are far from unheard of for medical staffers. As a condition of employment, Canning says, Confluence Health requires staff have current inoculations for measles, mumps, rubella and seasonal flu.
NCWLIFE reached out this week to Columbia Valley Community Health regarding its requirements for staff vaccination; the nonprofit clinic system did not respond to the request.