DELTA, Colo. — A Delta Health employee says lawyers for the hospital in Delta County provided insight on how to get around the vaccine mandate during an employee meeting.
The employee who provided video of the meeting to Denver7 said it was a blatant move to provide a loophole for people who simply don’t want to get vaccinated.
"I was appalled actually. I just have no faith in the health care system that I work for," a Delta Health employee said.
After hearing a lawyer from Delta Health speak, this employee, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, said it was clear a loophole was being presented.
"If you are willing to sign this affidavit, which states, 'I hereby swear and affirm that I have sincerely held a religious belief or religious conviction that prevents me from getting the COVID vaccine,' that is good enough for me," the lawyer for Delta Health can be heard saying in the recording.
For this employee, it seems to be a good enough excuse for some people to avoid a vaccine mandate.
"She basically said, 'No one's going to get fired. Just sign this form saying you have a religious exemption, and we'll honor it. No questions asked,'" the employee said.
On the other hand, nothing this lawyer from Delta Health is talking about is illegal either, according to Gillian Bidgood with the law firm Posinelli.
"An employer can say, 'Yes, I do want information about your beliefs. I want information about how you practice it and why it may be different from what we’re asking you to do.' Or, an employer can say, I' am going to give more benefits to my employees than the law requires, so I’m not going to ask for that additional information. I will just accept this affidavit,'" Bidgood said.
Still, this employee believes Delta Health opened the door for employees who didn’t want to get vaccinated to file an exemption, whether the reason is truthful or not.
"It's frustrating... that's the recommendation by our hospital is to say, 'Here's a religious form. Just sign it and you're done,'" the employee said.
In a statement, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment says, in part:
“We’re asking all health care facilities and their workers to follow the intent of this mandate to help save lives and protect patients.”
So far, only 47% of the population in Delta County is fully vaccinated.
In a statement, an official with Delta Health says, in part:
"This is an HR policy and these issues will be handled at the HR level. Like any HR policy, there is a process for disciplinary actions for noncompliance. At this time we have not terminated any employee for noncompliance with the vaccine mandate. Delta Health’s goal is to continue to be a resource for compassionate, quality healthcare that our community can trust."