Windsor-Essex hospitals set vaccination deadline for workers

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Local hospital workers are facing a vaccine ultimatum.

During Thursday’s hospital board meeting, Windsor Regional Hospital revealed a firm date hospital that workers in the region must get their shot or face consequences.

“Hotel Dieu and ourselves and Erie Shores announced Sept. 22 would be the date that everyone must have at least their first dose in place or else that sequence is going to occur,” WRH CEO David Musyj said.

The Windsor-Essex hospital network (Windsor Regional Hospital, Hotel Dieu Grace Healthcare, Bluewater Health, Chatham Kent Health Alliance and Erie Shores HealthCare) announced the decision to implement a mandatory vaccine requirement in a letter on Friday.

If workers refuse to get their COVID-19 shot, they will first be placed on a two-week unpaid leave. If they are still unvaccinated after that period, the next step is termination.

Prior to the mandatory vaccination requirement, 85 per cent of WRH staff were vaccinated. That number spiked to 94 per cent as of last week.

Out of the more than 6,000 employees, that equates to about 300 people who have yet to receive a vaccine.

With resources stretched thing during the fourth wave, Musyj says losing even one staff member will hurt. However, in order to handle what’s coming, he added the hospital will need a fully vaccinated team.

“I’m not having one more conversation with a family where we haven’t done everything we can to protect them and their loved ones. And we can’t as a healthcare provider say double vaccination is the most important thing right now and to get us through this wave and not live by those words as an institution,” Musyj says.

The decision for unvaccinated workers has a far reaching impact on their life.

Musyj says they will have to leave the healthcare profession completely, because all hospitals and similar institutions are now enforcing the same vaccination rules.