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Quinn's gives vaccination incentive

Company offers bonus to employees


April 22, 2021

Ed Moreth

SHOT TIME – Registered Nurse Rashell Jones administers the first COVID-19 vaccine to Deanna Lapierre, a staff member of Glacier Crossroads Lodging, which is owned by Quinn's Hot Springs Resort. Waiting his turn is Darrel Amidon, a Quinn's manager.

Quinn's Hot Springs Resort is giving employees a bonus as a way to encourage them to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The Paradise company is not requiring employees to get vaccinated, but General Manager Denise Moreth said their part to keep their staff, guests and community safe.

"We want to help us all make it past this pandemic," Moreth said Monday. Quinn's employs 127 people and is offering a $500 bonus for any who receive their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by May 10. After May 10, the bonus amount goes down to $300.

The company has not determined how long the program will continue, but Moreth and Mark Melief, Quinn's president and director of finance, stated that all employees, even part-time and new hires, will be eligible for the bonus. The bonuses will be paid within a month of the employees providing verification of a completed CDC vaccination card. The only caveat is that the employees need to still be employed with the company at the time the paycheck is issued. "If they get the vaccine and bonus and leave, it's still better for the community," Moreth said. "We need to do our part."

"We're unique in that we're a nexus for people traveling. We have the potential to be a super spreader" if a guest or staff member were to test positive for coronavirus, Melief stated. That is why the company chose to offer the bonus for those who get vaccinated. He said he had heard of companies offering $25 gift cards to employees, but Quinn's wanted to create a sense of urgency to encourage their staff to act and get vaccinated. "It will give us a lot of protection," Moreth added.

The senior managers at Quinn's weren't sure what the response would be when they sent a letter to employees announcing the program last Thursday. By end of day Monday, almost 20% of their staff had expressed interest or scheduled appointments.

"This is intended to be a 'thank you' not only for all the work and headaches that we've experienced over the last year, but also for taking one of the final steps so we can begin to remove restrictions and return to some semblance of 'normal,'" managers wrote to employees.

"Our staff gets tired," Melief said. "They have done a really good job. This program is a way to be proactive and also thank them for everything they've done." The senior leadership team has discussed a goal of having 70% of the staff vaccinated, but Melief stated that number will help keep everyone safe. He and Moreth see encouraging vaccination as the last step the company can take to ensure the safety of their guests and staff.

Moreth said the company is working with Clark Fork Valley Hospital to schedule appointments. They do not have a block of time, but as employees sign up for the bonus program, Moreth contacts the hospital to see when appointments are available. All Montanans ages 16 and older became eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine on April 1.

The hospitality industry, including Quinn's was hit hard due to coronavirus, Melief and Moreth said. The resort, which has 83 rooms and cabins, a restaurant, bar, hot springs pools and an event center, closed down for two months in 2020 per the government restrictions, and then for another week in December so that they could do their own contact tracing.

"We closed down before the mandate," Moreth said. "We wanted to make sure we could ensure the team their jobs." Quinn's re-opened the Friday before Memorial Day of 2020 and have continued to restrict occupancy by choice, Melief said. Even with their self-imposed restrictions, including reduced occupancy, additional sanitizing and cleaning protocols for their staff, and a mask policy that requires staff and guests to wear them in any public buildings on the property, Melief said the company set an all-time room record in March of this year. The managers stated that they have had more praise than complaints for their policies, especially with many of their guests coming from out of the area. The resort has been busy, and Melief stated when he looked this week they did not have a lodging reservation available until mid-June. "We've gained more loyal guests as a result of our efforts and the employees appreciate our efforts to stay open," Moreth added.

As of Monday, more than 20% of Sanders County residents were reported by the state Department of Public Health and Human Services as being fully vaccinated. Another 3,137 have received the first dose of a vaccination.

"I am not aware of any other Sanders County employers that are monetarily incentivizing their employees to obtain the COVID vaccine, though I have heard of organizations in the country doing so," said Dr. Gregory Hanson, CEO of Clark Fork Valley Hospital (CFVH), adding that the hospital has chosen not to use monetary inducements to encourage employees to vaccinate.

Hanson said he encourages employers to communicate the reasons they encourage employees to get vaccinated, "which generally relate to protection of their employees and customers, and the ability of the business to remain viable."

While Quinn's is working to get a majority of their staff vaccinated against coronavirus, the company also continues to work on an expansion project. The new pools opened in February this year, and construction is almost complete on a second check-in area, new locker rooms and changing areas, and a poolside bar and grill. Moreth said the expansion will triple the company's staffing needs in the pool area. The resort has not opened their pools for day use. The pools are only open to guests staying at the resort. The bar and restaurant are open to the public. Melief and Moreth stated that the company will review protocols and capacity limits as more of the staff gets vaccinated.


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