Penn Highlands provides an update on vaccine mandate for healthcare workers

Local News

CLEARFIELD COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) – Healthcare workers have until January 4, 2022, to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19, and until December 5 to receive the first dose of Pfizer or Moderna two-dose shot.

The hospital reports that as of November 1, just 66% of employees across the Penn Highlands network are fully vaccinated, just under 2,000 unvaccinated staff members in total.

“We want to keep our workforce with, us of course and we want employees to be vaccinated and be safe,” said Mark Norman, the chief operating officer at Penn Highlands Healthcare.

Penn Highlands said they have seen a recent rising number of cases, as we see a surge with the Delta variant.

“Nearly 1/3, to half of the cases we are now seeing breakthrough cases. People ill with covid who have been vaccinated,” Dr. Russell Cameron said, chief medical officer at Penn Highlands Healthcare.

A protest is planned for Friday afternoon outside the Penn Highlands DuBois campus as healthcare workers and community members make a stand against the vaccine mandate. Norman said he is aware of planned protests Friday and understands some frustrations around the mandate.

“We certainly understand that however, Penn Highlands believes in the vaccine and we are encouraging our employees to get the vaccine,” Norman said.

109 patients are currently hospitalized due to COVID-19 in Penn Highlands hospitals. 13 people are on ventilators, and in the past day 4 have died. The hospital will comply with cms guidelines as it risks losing key funding if not.

“It will result in the community losing access to high-quality healthcare because our health system to lose 66% of our net revenue, and a lot of people would lose jobs,” Norman said.

Penn Highlands said 32 employees have filed for a religious or medical exemption from receiving the vaccine as of Thursday.

Those not exempt and not fully vaccinated by January 4, 2022, will be placed on unpaid administrative leave for 45 days, and if still not vaccinated, they will then be fired.

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