Health-care workers at St. Joe’s in Hamilton could be fired if they aren’t vaccinated by new deadline

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Published October 25, 2021 at 12:07 pm

Effective Dec. 14, 2021, St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton will require all of its health-care workers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton announced last month that if they did not achieve a 100 per cent vaccination rate among health-care workers by Oct. 21, 2021, it would move to a mandatory vaccination policy.

Well, here are.

Effective Dec. 14, 2021, St. Joe’s will require all of its health-care workers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. It says the timing was calculated in order to allow unvaccinated workers one last chance to get both doses.

Health-care workers must receive their second dose by Nov. 30 in order to meet the deadline and “there will be very limited exemptions,” according to St. Joe’s.

Those who are not fully vaccinated by Dec. 14 and do not have an approved exemption will face “progressive disciplinary action,” which includes termination of employment.

“All of our health-care workers are valuable and have contributed greatly during the pandemic. Because health-care workers have an elevated duty to utilize all available tools to prevent harm to vulnerable patients, the greater ethical emphasis is on the collective good of mandatory vaccination,” says Melissa Farrell, President of St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton.

“We ask that all eligible St. Joe’s health-care workers who are unvaccinated make the choice to become vaccinated in the coming weeks. We want you to stay at St. Joe’s; it will require being vaccinated to be compliant with our mandatory vaccination policy.”

St. Joe’s says 92 per cent of staff and 99 per cent of its physicians are fully vaccinated.

“Another 2 per cent of our staff have their first vaccine and we anticipate they will be fully vaccinated before December 14,” according to a spokesperson for the organization.

“Our vaccination rates demonstrate that the overwhelming majority of our healthcare workers support vaccination as an essential step to providing the safest environment possible in our hospital, and as a means to help keep themselves, their coworkers and their patients safe.”

St. Joe’s has said that mandatory vaccination is an important next step to protecting its health-care workers and their patients.

Meanwhile, Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) announced on Friday (Oct. 22) that it would be instituting a COVID-19 vaccination mandate for all staff and physicians.

As of Nov. 30, 2021, HHS will require all staff and physicians to be fully vaccinated, unless they have an accepted medical or religious reason not to be.

In an open letter posted to the health-care provider’s website, HHS President and CEO, Rob MacIsaac, explained that the decision to make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory among hospital workers was not made easily but it is “necessary to close the remaining gap in order to provide for the safety and protection for our workforce and community.”

“We know vaccine mandates are effective, and we think higher rates of vaccination are necessary for our workforce, our patients, and our community,” he wrote.

“For patient populations at greater risk (like the immune-compromised and the frail elderly population), hospital workers must do everything possible to not be the cause of transmission to patients.”

According to MacIsaac’s letter, about 90 per cent of the patients hospitalized with COVID-19 at HHS are not vaccinated.

He addressed concerns of health-care worker shortages and said that while the pandemic has certainly strained human resources in the sector, this problem has been in the making for years before this crisis.

“COVID-19 hasn’t helped this situation with its relentless strain on our workers, but the root causes of this shortage are much broader and longer-term than the pandemic,” MacIsaac said.

“As a consequence, and as you would expect, we will proceed prudently in the weeks ahead as we move to implement this policy.”

To date, approximately 91 per cent of HHS staff and physicians have been fully vaccinated against the virus.

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