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Hospital fires 13 unvaccinated staff

Monday marked last chance for SAH workers to receive first vaccine dose
20190215-SAH winter-DT
Darren Taylor/SooToday

Sault Area Hospital (SAH) has terminated the employment of 13 of its workers - including four registered nurses, four registered practical nurses and five support services workers - as a result of the hospital’s mandatory vaccination policy for staff.

Active SAH employees had until Monday, Nov. 22 to receive their first dose in order to be fully vaccinated by Dec. 20.

“Like many other hospitals in Ontario, including those in our region, we recognize the importance of mandatory vaccination of healthcare workers as a critical tool in protecting patient, physician, staff and volunteer safety, as well as avoiding disruption to vital hospital services and programs,” stated SAH in a release Wednesday.

Previously, all new SAH employees, professional staff (such as physicians and midwives), contracted staff, learners and volunteers were to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Sept. 7, 2021.

SAH states that as of Tuesday, Nov. 23:

  • 100 per cent of its active employees are fully vaccinated or in the process of becoming fully vaccinated, with the exception of those with an approved medical exemption
  • 100 per cent of its active professional staff (physicians and midwives) are fully vaccinated, with the exception of those with an approved medical exemption
  • 100 per cent of its on-site volunteers are fully vaccinated, with the exception of those with an approved medical exemption

On Monday, SAH informed SooToday it was “working with” approximately 70 of 1,766 active employees who had until the end of that day (Nov. 22, 2021) to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“We also took this step (terminating the employment of unvaccinated employees) with careful and thoughtful consideration of the potential impacts,” SAH stated in Wednesday’s release.

“Given our efforts to mitigate the impact of mandatory vaccination from the potential (loss) of 70 employees to 13, we are in a position to manage this impact through our contingency plans and recruitment efforts.”

SAH states vaccination rates among its staff and medical professionals have risen steadily since vaccination policies were introduced several months ago.

“This action helps reduce transmission of COVID-19 and decreases the risk of disruption to hospital operations and other unexpected staff absences due to illness,” the hospital wrote.

The Ontario government has said (so far) there will be no province-wide mandate requiring all healthcare workers to become fully vaccinated.

However, SAH states “our commitment to our mandatory vaccination policies has not changed. We believe it is the right decision for SAH to protect the safety of our patients, their loved ones, our teams and our community.”