NCH says unvaccinated employees ‘will have voluntarily resigned’ as of Thursday

Reporter: Justin Kase Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:

NCH Healthcare System confirmed Wednesday all of its employees must comply with its previously declared COVID-19 vaccine requirement; otherwise, those who choose not to be fully vaccinated “will have voluntarily resigned as of September 30 unless they have an approved medical or religious exemption.”

According to an NCH statement to WINK News, “All employees including prospective, newly hired, and/or onboarding employees, providers, contract staff, and volunteers must receive the COVID-19 vaccination, in full, by September 30, 2021 or within four (4) weeks of their date of hire as a condition of employment, unless otherwise exempted from this Policy by an approved accommodation (religious or medical exemption).”

Under the policy, paid time off will be given to NCH employees who potentially experience side effects in the days after being vaccinated, contract COVID-19 or have an unvaccinated child under 12 years old who contracts COVID-19. Under these circumstances, PTO would be provided independent of any accrued or otherwise available PTO.

NCH told us that as many as 7% of its employees have chosen not to get the vaccine, so out of the thousands of people who work for the health care system, close to 340 people could be out of a job by Thursday.

“I feel bad for the families. I feel bad, you know, for the workers because that’s how they make a living and earn a living,” said Daniel Cook. “And now, you’re just going to strip them from that? Like, that’s, I don’t think that’s right at all.”

In August, many people protested outside NCH over the mandate.

Cook says his son was born at NCH less than two months ago, and their nurse didn’t feel comfortable getting the vaccine. He shared this message to her.

“You didn’t go against your beliefs and your will and do something you didn’t want to do, and you actually stood up for what you believed in, so good for you,” Cook said.

Cook told us that nurse was prepared to lose her job.

We spoke to other members of the public who don’t want to see it come to that.

“I just, frankly, don’t want to see anybody out of a good job, and we really do have a health care shortage at this time,” Philip Heintzelman said.

Heintzelman says he hopes the mandate will push more employees toward compliance.

“I would think maybe 1% would still be pushing back on either hesitancy or just flat out don’t want the vaccine, so that surprises me that it’s closer to 7%,” Heintzelman said.

NCH told us its policy is about creating a safe environment for both patients and staff. A spokesperson said they appreciate those who have adhered to the policy.  

Others told us they feel it’s a safety issue and also hope more people get the shot.

“If they don’t get the vaccine, they get sick, and what?” Jacinta Diogenes said. “Who is going to take care of everybody? And that can pass [COVID-19] to another patient.”

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