UPDATE (10:57 a.m.) - After this morning's meeting, the Cambria Community Healthcare District confirmed that they will be moving forward with the new vaccine policy.
All staff members will be required to show proof of vaccination by Sept. 30. Those seeking religious or medical exceptions will have to get COVID-19 tests two times a week, administrator Mike McDonaugh told KSBY.
The Board of Directors meeting discussed the vaccine policy, its legal implications and continued protocols the district will be implementing.
McDonaugh summed up today's meeting with one message.
"We are taking every step humanly possible to keep our staff and patients safe," he said.
An audio recording of the meeting will be available on the CCHD website.
ORIGINAL STORY: With COVID-19 cases rising once again, the Cambria Community Healthcare District is considering making vaccinations a requirement for employees.
This comes after Governor Gavin Newsom announced a vaccine mandate for all health care and state workers in California.
The Cambria Community Healthcare District provides ambulance services to Cambria, San Simeon and more.
“We want to continue that trust that they have in us. Part of that would be to provide a vaccinated staff that's out there meeting and serving the public," said administrator Mike McDonough.
The district's Board of Directors is meeting Tuesday to discuss a vaccine mandate for all employees.
According to McDonough, quite a few employees are already vaccinated, however, due to the Delta variant, board members felt they should act quickly to protect those they serve. as well as co-workers, even if people are skeptical of the vaccines.
McDonough said, “It's a personal conflict or a personal challenge. You have to ask every single one of them what they, how they feel about that because there is many different opinions and they're different people.”
If an employee doesn’t get a vaccine, they could face repercussions.
The policy draft says in part, “…Compliance with this policy is a condition of continued employment.”
“It's our job to take every step possible to ensure the safety of not only those residents but also our own staff is these folks when they come to work, they could do a 24-hour shift, they're camped out here together. We just want everybody to be safe," said Director Cecilia Montalvo.
Montalvo went on to say the proposal is to give people peace of mind for when neighbors are facing health crises, they can trust that those treating them are vaccinated against COVID-19.
McDonough explained, “They have feelings, concerns just like everyone else and so they are compelled to do a good job. They're in this business because they like and they want to continue to do that good work and help people, and that's what I do and what we do here is we support them."
McDonough would be part of validating those exemptions if the policy passed with guidance from the legal department and county health. “And we would just require documentation of either one of those places in their file," he said.
Currently the district does track who is vaccinated and who isn’t, but employees so far are not required to get the shots.
"I think that addressing the fears that people have and, you know, making them feel safe and getting the vaccine, you know, the reality is that the greater risk is to get COVID-19, and particularly the Delta variant, which is a much stronger virus and get very sick," Montalvo said.
Montalvo says she thought most people would presume that every paramedic already received the vaccine, adding the reaction from the community has been positive.
According to her, she hasn’t heard anything negative yet from her colleagues.
If the policy is passed, employees would be given a 30-day period with which to provide proof of vaccination but they aren't sure if it just means commencing the process, or obtaining the complete vaccination.