Lt. Governor Open Letter to Citizens Regarding Vaccine Mandates

Lt. Governor Open Letter to Citizens Regarding Vaccine Mandates

State of Idaho

Office of the Lieutenant Governor

Janice McGeachin

An open letter to:

Idaho Healthcare Personnel, Employees of Hospital Vendors, and Concerned Citizens:

First, I would like to thank you for your service to our state and for your dedication to helping Idaho citizens during the COVID-19 pandemic. Words alone cannot express our heartfelt gratitude for your dedication and bravery during the past 17 months.

As your Lt. Governor, I am concerned that a sudden loss of healthcare personnel might lead to a healthcare crisis in our state. Therefore, I would like to help you understand your rights as both citizens and employees as they pertain to personal healthcare decisions and to issues of potential discrimination. 

The law is clear about informed consent for healthcare treatment and procedures. Below please find information I hope is helpful.

Informed consent is required in state law:

Any person, including one who is developmentally disabled and not a respondent as defined in section 66-402, Idaho Code, who comprehends the need for, the nature of and the significant risks ordinarily inherent in any contemplated hospital, medical, dental, surgical or other health care, treatment or procedure is competent to consent thereto on his or her own behalf. Any health care provider may provide such health care and services in reliance upon such a consent if the consenting person appears to the health care provider securing the consent to possess such requisite comprehension at the time of giving the consent.

Sufficiency of Consent:

Consent, or refusal to consent, for the furnishing of health care, treatment or procedures shall be valid in all respects if the person giving or refusing the consent is sufficiently aware of pertinent facts respecting the need for, the nature of, and the significant risks ordinarily attendant upon such a person receiving such care, as to permit the giving or withholding of such consent to be a reasonably informed decision. 

Responsibility for Consent and Documentation:

Obtaining sufficient consent for health care is the duty of the attending health care provider upon whose order or at whose direction the contemplated health care, treatment or procedure is rendered; provided however, a licensed hospital and any employee of a health care provider, acting with the approval of such an attending or other individual health care provider, may perform the ministerial act of documenting such consent by securing the completion and execution of a form or statement in which the giving of consent for such care is documented by or on behalf of the person.

Also, according to state law, the right to work shall not be subject to undue restraint or coercion:

It is hereby declared to be the public policy of the state of Idaho, in order to maximize individual freedom of choice in the pursuit of employment and to encourage an employment climate conducive to economic growth, that the right to work shall not be subject to undue restraint or coercion. 

Most of the healthcare providers have Human Resource (HR) Departments. It is their responsibility to ensure that policies, working conditions and the concerns of employees in the workplace are addressed in an appropriate manner. As employees, it is our responsibility to notify the HR Department when there are untenable conditions in the workplace.  Here are some things to consider:

If you decide that you will not comply with a demand to receive a COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment, I suggest that you issue an affirmative statement to the company that you are opposed to the vaccine and do not intend to receive it based on a religious exemption, medical condition, or other circumstance. This notification will serve two purposes a) the company will know the seriousness of the policy and b) it will not be able to say that they were unprepared for the loss of their employee. A form could be developed and a specific request should be made that the form be placed in your employee file.

Ask the healthcare provider who is administering the vaccine if they have an informed consent form available, which should list out any side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine. If you accept the risks from the vaccine you should sign it and keep it in your medical file. Remember, you have a right to provide this consent or not, according to state law.

Ask the company how they expect to receive verification of the COVID-19 vaccination if it is provided by another healthcare provider.

How will this COVID-19 vaccine status be disclosed to your supervisor for enforcement? There are legitimate concerns about the privacy of our individual healthcare information.

Document any forms of harassment or intimidation from your employer or direct supervisor. For example, being required to place a sticker on a name badge as a show of compliance may be considered a form of intimidation. The recommended course of action, should you believe discrimination is occurring, is to file a complaint within your HR Department for each case of harassment or intimidation, no matter what form it takes. If you do not feel comfortable doing this, at least keep a personal diary of any incident.

The purpose of all of this information is to provide evidence in the case of a lawsuit for termination of employment. The employee might have standing if they demonstrate that they have done all they could to notify the company and ask for an opportunity to seek accommodation. If anyone were to walk off the job prior to this date, there may not be any recourse. It would simply be deemed that you quit and you might not be able to claim unemployment compensation.

Please staff your stations until the day comes when the company where you work will choose to implement their vaccine mandate. Ultimately, this decision rests on hospital leadership and administration. I have asked them to come to the table to discuss the mandate and its impacts. Other, longer-term alternatives may be available as well, but for now the above would be my advice.

Most of all, please know that I and others are making an earnest effort to amicably resolve this.

I hope this information is helpful. 

Lt. Governor Janice McGeachin

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