Centura Health Employees Who Get Their COVID Vaccines Will Also Get A $500 Bonus

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
A container of syringes filled with Moderna vaccine at a COVID 19 vaccination clinic in Aurora on Friday, May 14, 2021.

Centura Health announced Monday it will give employees at all of its 17 hospitals a $500 bonus for getting the COVID-19 vaccine, including those who may have received their shots months ago.

President and CEO Peter Banko said it's the system's way of encouraging everyone to get vaccinated and to thank those who already have.

“So we've seen other health systems starting in May mandating the vaccine. We're trying our best to stay away from a mandate,” Banko said. “From all the data we've seen mandates only increase hesitancy.”

In April, a health care system in Texas became the first to require the vaccine for workers. That led to a lawsuit, which was thrown out, and more than 150 workers resigning or being fired.

Spokespeople for other large hospital institutions like Denver Health and SCL Health said a vaccine requirement is not something they've considered so far.

Banko said about 70 percent of Centura’s 20,000 employees are vaccinated — and he'd like to see that number up above 90 percent. He expects the incentive program to cost around $7 million.

A spokesman said the system’s highest vaccination rates are amongst employees that deal directly with patients, like physicians, advanced practice providers, and nurses, who average above 80 percent vaccination.

System and hospital leaders are also vaccinated at similar rates, he said.

Banko said about 100 employees have been hospitalized and three have died in the pandemic.

The system also has some 30 to 40 workers that are out now who have either tested positive or had a high-risk exposure

“Don't want anybody to be hospitalized, die, or have any long-term health and wellbeing impacts,” said Banko, adding he thought the number will go even higher by “providing a little bit of incentive and encouragement to get the vaccine.”

The $500 bonus will go to those who have already been vaccinated, and those who have had their first dose by July 16 and their second dose by Aug. 16. Banko said that gives about a month for those who are “maybe still on the fence to make some decisions.”