Avi Singh draws up a dose of the Pfizer vaccine during a COVID-19 vaccine clinic at the Oregon State Fairgrounds on Thursday, Jan. 28. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)
A video created by a Salem recruiter for a regional nursing home chain is going viral because she announced she’ll hire unvaccinated medical staffers to care for elderly people in three states.
Her employer said Monday that Oregon law prevents businesses from mandating vaccinations for health care workers and that those who have been unjustly fired from other jobs are welcome.
In the since-deleted video, Shayna Hall, a recruiter for Bonaventure Senior Living, said she’s seen nurses and other medical workers in tears on the app Tik Tok because they’re being fired or forced out of their jobs for refusing to get a Covid vaccine.
“If you’re a nurse, a caregiver, a med tech and you now need a new job because of this, hit me up. I’ll hire you. I need nurses, caregivers, med techs in Washington, Colorado and Oregon,” she said in the video, posted July 29.
Bonaventure is a Salem-based senior living facility with operations in Oregon, Colorado and Washington. It has three facilities in the Salem area.
Jeremiah Gray, divisional director of operations at Bonaventure, said the company has a staffing shortage and no preference had been or will be given to applicants based on their vaccination status. He said Bonaventure doesn’t ask applicants if they’ve been vaccinated.
“It is sad to see people losing their jobs as state law is being completely ignored by many health care companies to benefit their own public image,” Gray said referring to vaccine mandates. “This is not only an ethical issue but also an issue with significant legal ramifications.”
In December, a nurse was fired from Salem Health and prohibited from practicing as a nurse after posting a Tik Tok video suggesting she was flouting Covid restrictions.
In an interview with Salem Reporter, Hall said she liked to watch funny Tik Toks in her downtime and started seeing more and more videos of health care workers who were fired or forced to resign because they were unwilling to get vaccinated.
“For the past year and half those are the people we’ve been praised,” she said. “They’ve gone from being what’s saving everybody to the ones that are now needing help. It’s kind of mind-blowing for one.”
She said she made the video July 29 to let those people know it’s not the end of the line for them and that there are other options.
Hall said she received a lot of support from the original video which garnered 50,000 views on Tik Tok, with people applying to the company because of it.
She said her employer asked her to take the video down the day Gov. Jay Inslee mandated Washington health workers get the vaccine, which was on Aug. 9.
When asked what she would say to families who are concerned about unvaccinated health workers caring for their family members, she said protecting residents is the number one priority for Bonaventure.
“I get being concerned or being scared but we are taking precautions,” she said. “We wouldn’t want to put anybody in the way of danger.”
In an email, Hall said, “I know people have the thought that not getting the vaccine is putting people in danger, but so is mandating it. The health care field, as we all know, is already very short staffed. We’ve just made that a million times worse by requiring a vaccine that’s not even FDA approved yet. I don’t know the numbers, but based on the videos I have seen, it’s high. Many health care workers are leaving the field. We’ve just taken a staff shortage and multiplied it. Seniors as well as anyone else that seeks medical attention are now at a higher risk of not receiving the care they need.”
The Oregon Health Care Association, the state’s largest long-term care trade association, in a statement on Aug. 4 supported Gov. Kate Brown’s new rule requiring health care workers get vaccinated against Covid by Sept. 30 or submit to weekly testing.
Nearly 7 out of 10 Oregon long-term care workers are vaccinated, according to data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, about the same rate as the state's adult population.
Four physicians’ groups representing 4,700 health care workers in Oregon said in a statement on Friday, Aug. 13, that the Oregon Health Authority should implement the vaccination rules and Covid testing now, rather than in a month and a half.
“Delaying action until the end of September puts front-line health care workers at risk and jeopardizes the ability of our health care infrastructure to meet the demands of caring for Oregon’s rising tide of COVID-19 patients,” said a statement endorsed by the Oregon chapters of the American College of Physicians and the American College of Emergency Physicians, the Oregon Pediatric Society and the Oregon Academy of Family Physicians.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Oregon Health Authority and Marion County Health Department have all said getting vaccinated against Covid is the best way to avoid serious illness from the virus.
Gray said Bonaventure made the vaccine available to all staff and residents and has continued testing.
He said Bonaventure is considering testing all employees regardless of whether or not they’re vaccinated because its most recent outbreak at a facility in Vancouver involved people who were fully vaccinated.
“As an example, I personally had an outside-of-the-workplace exposure the week before last so I could not work and had to be tested multiple times before re-entering our communities,” he said in an email.
Bonaventure of Salem has seen eight deaths and 37 cases of Covid since July 16, 2020, according to the Oregon Health Authority’s Covid outbreak report.
Hall said she has elected not to get vaccinated. She said she already had Covid and recovered.
“I know that’s not the case for everybody,” she said. “I would rather wait until they’ve done further studies on it.”
She added that her uncle was fully vaccinated and is now on a ventilator in an intensive care unit after contracting the virus.
Hall said she’s since deleted or locked her social media accounts after getting threatening emails and messages as a result of the video
“It’s absurd. I can’t imagine threatening someone or their family simply because they have a different point of view,” she said.
Gray said the way Hall was attacked on social media was disgusting.
“She had no ill intentions but rather is the one on the phone listening to people who have lost their jobs and fear they may not find another. This is a stressful and concerning time for everyone,” he said.
This article has been updated to reflect which Bonaventure facility had the most recent outbreak.
Contact reporter Saphara Harrell at 503-549-6250, [email protected]
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