UCHealth Creates New COVID-19 Policies

New procedures surrounding COVID-19 vaccination status are being implemented at nearly all hospitals around the country.


A Colorado UCHealth hospital refuses a patient for her vaccination status

Tyler Solomon, Staff Writer

A Colorado Springs UCHealth patient has recently appeared on national news because of how the hospital deals with unvaccinated patients, which brings to light policy changes made by the hospitals: They will be refusing service to patients that have not been vaccinated against COVID-19. This press release has ignited several arguments for and against this decision.
The subject became national news because of the denial of a life-saving kidney transplant by a Colorado UCHealth Hospital. Leilani Lutali and her unvaccinated donor Jaimee Fougner, believe her transplant has been “taken hostage” over her refusal of the vaccine. Lutali has stage five kidney disease, meaning her kidneys only operate at 14% capacity.
“I was the one that had to break the news to Leilani and we were just devastated that somebody could take her life away from her because of a vaccine,” Fougner tells reporters in an interview with KRDO.
Tim Geitner (R-Falcon) has shared the letter sent to Lutali on multiple social media platforms and showed support for the two, prompting debates and protests over the ethics of the decision. Another issue brought up in the argument is the fact that Lutali already has Coronavirus antibodies after testing positive.
However, UCHealth Spokesperson Dan Weaver has stated the reason all patients awaiting transplants may be denied due to vaccination status comes down to the 21% mortality rate of post-operation patients with Coronavirus.
“For those who test positive for COVID-19, the mortality death rate is about 1.6%. It’s even less if you consider the people who are infected but who don’t get tested or who are asymptomatic. For transplant patients who contract COVID-19, the mortality rate ranges from about 20% to more than 30%.” Weaver states, referencing a study in the National Library of Medicine.
Frailty and age are also major factors that should be considered, as shown in the study referenced by Weaver. The use of immunosuppressants could be another reason to refuse such operations, as the use of such medicine would weaken the body and leave recipients of organ transplants more susceptible to Coronavirus or other health complications.
UCHealth is not the only healthcare company to implement these measures, as many clinics and other practices around the country are doing the same. Hospital systems in states like Ohio, Indiana, and New York are adding Coronavirus vaccines to their list of requirements for treatment and employment.
“Living donation for organ transplantation has been a life-saving treatment, but it is not without risks to the donor. For the living donor, reducing the risk of a COVID-19 infection around the time of their surgery and recovery is crucial,” a statement by the Cleveland Clinic says in response to their implementation of a similar mandate.
All UCHealth locations and many other hospitals will be enforcing this policy for the foreseeable future. Many are looking for other possible exemptions to this policy so those unable to get the vaccine due to medical conditions will still be cared for.