PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Four Legacy Health urgent care clinics are closed for the foreseeable future.
Legacy’s locations are closed in West Linn, Lake Oswego, the Pearl District and Camas. Although the company has confirmed the closures are due to lack of staffing, Legacy has not stated those staffing issues are caused by the state-wide COVID-19 vaccine mandate for healthcare workers.
However, KOIN 6 News spoke to Leah Peterson — an employee who says she will quit when the October 18 deadline to be vaccinated arrives. She works directly with patients at Legacy Silverton Medical Center as a sonographer, performing ultrasounds.
Her husband is also in healthcare but works for a different employer, the Samaritan Health system. Peterson said they submitted identical letters citing their religious beliefs for why they don’t want the vaccine — and requested an exemption from the vaccine mandate.
His healthcare employer approved the exemption within a week, while Legacy Health denied her request 30 days later.
“Having no reasoning as to why it was denied definitely puts you in a spot of questioning the system who denied as to what they did for the last month,” Peterson told KOIN 6 News. “Was the letter even read? How could you not respond on a personal level to say, what, what was wrong?”
She received the denial on Monday and is left wondering if there’s a way she could clear up the issue.
Peterson has received other vaccines in the past, “but regardless of that, that’s also within your right to change your beliefs in life.”
The denial letter from Legacy said she did not meet the criteria of consistency (because she’s received vaccines previously) and specificity (clearly stating both the religious belief and how it is specifically against receiving the COVID vaccine.)
“We’re finding some people haven’t had any vaccines for 10-12 years and some, maybe in the last two years, so where was the line drawn?” she said.
Legacy Health did not respond to our request about the specific criteria compared to other hospitals. But officials did say 93% of their 14,000 employees are either fully vaccinated or have started their vaccine series. That means about 1000 employees are unvaccinated.
Peterson will be put on unpaid leave on October 1, then fired by October 19 for being unvaccinated. She said she will choose to be fired.