Kootenai Health: Almost all employees complying with vaccine requirement

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho– Kootenai Health said almost all of its employees are in compliance with its COVID-19 vaccine requirement.

The health care provider said 99-percent of the people who work there are following the mandate. Of those, 79 percent are fully vaccinated or intend to become vaccinated. Twenty-one percent of employees asked for a medical or religious exemption. Kootenai Health said it has granted 99-percent of religious or medical exemptions.

The health care provider said employees had until Dec. 13 to verify their vaccination status. Anyone who was not in compliance was pulled from the schedule on Tuesday. However, they can use paid time off to get into compliance through Dec. 21.

Kootenai Health said workers were informed about the requirement on Nov. 4 when the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ ruled that health care workers needed to get the shot. Even though a federal court order in Louisiana put a pause on that mandate, Kootani Health said it would continue to move forward with it. The hospital said it issued its policy on Nov. 10.

A spokeswoman said in 2020 and 2021, the hospital cared for 3,054 patients hospitalized for COVID-19. Nearly 300 of those patients died at the hospital. Health care leaders said the majority of them were unvaccinated.

“This pandemic has placed a significant strain on all health systems, and the patients we serve, in Idaho,” Kootenai Health said in a statement.

On Nov. 22, Idaho deactivated crisis standards of care for all parts of the state except North Idaho.

Crisis standards of care remain in effect in the Panhandle Health District, which includes Boundary, Bonner, Kootenai, Benewah and Shoshone counties.

Kootenai Health has 3,700 employees.

PREVIOUS: Kootenai Health pushes back employee vaccine requirement date

PREVIOUS: Crisis standards of care deactivated for all Idaho hospitals excluding those in North Idaho

RELATED: What does crisis standard of care mean?