Eastern State Hospital could lose 100 employees because of the vaccine mandate

MEDICAL LAKE, Wash.  — Right now, Eastern State Hospital has 164 vacancies, but it could be adding more.

Eastern State Hospital is looking to fill 100 jobs because some of its employees don’t want to get vaccinated.

Of the 841 employees that work at Eastern, 80 percent of them are vaccinated.

Two weeks ago, 117 employees filed for either a religious or a medical exemption. The hospital said 77 religious exemptions and 40 were medical.

Tyler Hemstreet with the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) believes many will wait until the October 18 deadline to turn in their vaccination cards.

“The bottom line is, that nobody really knows the number, the final number for this. HR is processing, working hard daily, it’s increasing hourly as the vaccinations are processed,” he said.

DSHS said it does have contingency plans in place. However, it did l not go further into details about what those plans are.

SEIU 1199 NW, a union that represents employees at Eastern State Hospital, explained recruiting for behavioral health is not easy. Behavioral health employees have the added risk of the patients at the hospital and are usually paid lower wages.

With the nationwide healthcare shortage already putting many hospitals across the region, executive vice president for the union Jane Hopkins explained the mandate will impact the shortage.

“I wouldn’t be truthful if I didn’t say, that we’re already can’t afford to lose more healthcare workers, but people make their own choices, but patients have got to be safe too,” she said.

Both SEIU 1199 NW and DSHS assure patient care will not be impacted at Eastern State Hospital.

RELATED: If you’re included in Washington’s vaccine mandate, you should now have your final dose

FEATURED: Inside the ICU: An exclusive look inside Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center’s intensive care unit