As a mandatory vaccination deadline is quickly approaching, more employees at Chatham-Kent’s hospitals are continuing to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
According to Lori Marshall, Chatham Kent Health Alliance President and CEO, 87 percent of CKHA staff are now fully vaccinated, with seven percent partially vaccinated.
“It’s definitely much higher than when we introduced the mandatory vaccination policy,” said Marshall, noting the physician rate is 96 percent.
Earlier this month, the hospital stated that staff who are not fully vaccinated or without a valid exemption by Oct. 31 would have their employment terminated. For professional staff, their privileges will be suspended on an immediate mid-term basis.
Meanwhile, in neighbouring municipality Windsor-Essex, 172 staff members at Windsor hospitals have been suspended without pay for not getting their COVID-19 shots by the deadlines set out by their employers.
“At this stage, we continue to work with our staff and our physicians,” said Marshall. “We are now in the process of moving towards an analysis of any staff that may be remaining. We need to help to understand what may be some barriers.”
She added she is aware some workers planned to submit a human rights challenge. She added a review was underway to assess what impact there would be to service by losing staff who refuse to immunize.
According to Marshall, they are allowing for medical exemptions for the specific areas that the College of Physicians and Surgeons has identified. She said some individuals are submitting a human rights exemption, and they are working through the logistics.
She added she doesn’t expect staffing problems to rise at the hospital after the vaccine deadline.
“At this stage, given the small number of staff we were talking about overall, I don’t believe there’s a risk, but it is incumbent for us to do that analysis to understand where there might be any gaps,” she said.
CKHA reported 13 patients with the virus in the hospital in Chatham, but one is not a resident of Chatham-Kent. Only two are vaccinated, and five are in the ICU, with four of them on ventilators.
Marshall also announced an unvaccinated patient has died at the Chatham hospital to bring the number of COVID-19 deaths to 18 in Chatham-Kent.
“This just underscores the serious nature of this virus again and encourages everyone to please get vaccinated if you are not vaccinated already. We definitely express our condolences and sympathies to the family,” said Marshall.
Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News