Unvaccinated staff at St. Mary's Hospital to be placed on unpaid leave starting Oct. 13

St. Mary's Hospital seen here in this photo from Sept. 24, 2019. (Zayn Jinah / CTV Kitchener)

St. Mary's General Hospital in Kitchener has begun issuing suspension notices to staff not in compliance with its mandatory vaccination policy.

Earlier this fall, the hospital issued a policy mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for all staff.

Staff at the hospital who are not yet fully vaccinated have until Oct. 12 to receive their first dose or be put on an unpaid leave starting Oct. 13.

A spokesperson for the hospital said the suspension notices were issued to less than 20 staff members from across the hospital.

 

"These are staff who are in non-compliance of Directive 6 and unvaccinated," Dayna Giorgio, St. Mary's communications manager, said in an email.

“We are doing everything we can to protect the safety of the patients we care for and our staff with this policy," hospital president Lee Fairclough said in a release. “We have taken a measured approach since the policy came into effect September 7 understanding that everyone must make their own decision, but that as healthcare providers, it is our duty and responsibility to take every step possible to protect those we care for and those we work with.”

St. Mary's said 98 per cent of staff are fully vaccinated.

“We know that the science demonstrates that vaccines save lives," Fairclough said. "After the way we have seen COVID impact our communities, we owe it to everyone to add this layer of protection and do everything we can.”

In early September, Ontario's chief medical officer of health Dr. Kieran Moore issued a directive requiring all high-risk settings, including hospitals, to have COVID-19 vaccination policies.

Those policies are different from hospital to hospital.

"The Medical Advisory Committees support and endorse mandatory vaccinations across our hospitals,” Dr. Peter Potts, joint chief of staff for Grand River Hospital and St. Mary's General Hospital, said in a release. “As physicians who have seen the devastating health consequences and risk to human life that COVID-19 has presented, we must utilize the science that we rely on every day and mandatory vaccinations across our hospitals ensure that we are doing everything we can as doctors and healthcare professionals to protect our patients and each other.”

St. Mary's said it is working to address any potential challenges and staffing gaps ahead of the Oct. 12 first-dose deadline.