The Chatham-Kent Health Alliance leapt to the mid-90 per cent mark for vaccinated staff after announcing the COVID shots would be a mandatory condition for continued employment.
Alliance President and CEO Lori Marshall says Sept. 23 there’s 87 per cent of staff fully dosed and a further seven per cent have now taken their first shot. That means 94 per cent of hospital workers are on track to have both COVID shots by the Oct. 31 deadline.
The vaccine rate among physicians is 96 per cent.
“Definitely much higher than we were when we introduced the mandatory vaccination policy,” says Marshall of the plan revealed earlier this month.
The task for the hospital now moves to convincing the final six per cent of holdouts to hop on board.
“Any staff that may be remaining, we need to understand what may be the barriers to them making a choice… and also assessing the risk to the organization in the event that we reach October 31 and some individuals identify that they really don’t feel they can comply with the hospital policy,” says Marshall.
The “risk” referenced by Marshall involves “concerns with respect to staff levels” and whether the hospital could still function smoothly if some workers were fired.
“At this stage given that it’s a small number of staff that we’re talking about overall I don’t believe that there is a risk. But it is incumbent to go through and do that analysis to understand where there might be any gaps,” says Marshall.
She adds some employees have been submitting human rights exemptions to the hospital’s vaccine mandate. CKHA is investigating their legal options to see how to proceed with these cases.
Windsor Regional Hospital put 140 employees on leave last week when Ontario’s vaccine passport came into effect. Representing three per cent of staff, they have until Oct. 7 to receive a shot or be released.
Marshall says Chatham-Kent won’t be taking punitive measures with unvaccinated workers until the end of next month. “We’re not at the stage yet where we’re moving toward any actions with those staff other than to help educate and go on and work through things with a goal to getting to October 31,” she says.
The last active outbreak at CKHA also cleared up Sept. 21. There were three cases in the rehab unit since being declared Sept. 11.
Alex Kurial, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Independent