UnityPoint CEO asks employees ‘Do we want to be the health care organization known as being place for unvaccinated?’

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UnityPoint Health CEO Clay Holderman included a video a little longer than six minutes to staff on Thursday with the organization’s announcement that COVID-19 vaccines would be required for more than 33,000 employees. Publicly Holderman and UnityPoint have tried to stress how sensitive they understand the issue to be. And for most of the video, he did that well.

But then there was the final one minute and 20 seconds.

“I want to lean into why we are doing this,” he said. “Our mission is to improve the health of our patients and the communities we serve. Our vision is to provide the best outcome for every patient, every time. We simply cannot achieve either of these with a workforce that is less than 65 percent vaccinated.”

He then read a letter he received from a kidney transplant patient. The patient had the transplant five months ago and said they were doing well but, despite being vaccinated, the biggest threat to their health is an infection.

“Not only COVID, but specifically COVID,” the letter states. “To be quite frank, I am tired of carrying the burden for health care workers who refuse to get vaccinated despite the science, pleading, incentives, reason. I cannot understand why any health care organization would do anything but follow the science. Please, do the right thing.”

Holderman then reminds employees they got into health care to serve.

“And it’s time for us to follow the evidence and serve our patients well,” he said. “Do we want to be the health care organization that is known as being the place for the unvaccinated? Is that what our patients trust us with? I know this is a controversial decision, but I trust that you will lean into your calling and your service and help support this with our FOCUS values in mind.”

While UnityPoint said it will offer medical and religious exemptions, it noted that “social views, political philosophies, or mere personal preference” do not qualify for exemptions.