Protesters gather outside Windsor Regional Hospital following staff suspensions last week

·2 min read
Dozens of people gathered outside of Windsor Regional Hospital's Met campus on Wednesday, protesting the hospital's suspension of unvaccinated staff.  (Jason Viau/CBC - image credit)
Dozens of people gathered outside of Windsor Regional Hospital's Met campus on Wednesday, protesting the hospital's suspension of unvaccinated staff. (Jason Viau/CBC - image credit)

Dozens of people gathered to protest outside of Windsor Regional Hospital's Met campus Wednesday, a week after the health-care facility suspended workers who did not meet their vaccine policy deadline.

Among them, were vaccinated and unvaccinated health-care workers, according to a letter given to CBC News.

The letter states that the workers were gathering "for informed consent, autonomy, confidentiality and medical privacy."

"We believe in the ability to make personal and / or medical choice. We have been on the front lines since the very beginning of the pandemic and now are being told we are unsafe and unfit to continue working unless we are vaccinated," the letter reads, and is signed "Your frontline workers."

It's unclear if other groups were involved in the gathering.

A week ago, about 172 staff members at Windsor Regional Hospital (WRH) and Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare were suspended without pay for not getting their COVID-19 shots by the deadlines set out by their employers.

Both hospitals had set Wednesday, Sept. 22 as a deadline for all staff and physicians to have had at least one dose of the vaccine to continue working unless an approved exemption was provided.

In a media statement Wednesday, Windsor Regional Hospital CEO David Musyj and chief of staff Dr. Wassim Saad emphasized that they are proud that 97.3 per cent of hospital staff have chosen to be vaccinated. They say there are 113 people out of the originally announced 147, who remain unvaccinated.

"We stand by our WRH vaccine policy that was unanimously passed by our Medical Advisory Committee and Board of Directors. Patients and their loved ones expect us to do everything we can to prevent the spread and/or outbreak of COVID-19 within our hospitals, to protect our community, patients and fellow staff and to lead by example," the statement read.

WATCH | WRH's CEO talks about staff suspensions at the hospital:

The statement also said that the "compliments and gratitude" regarding the vaccine policy have been more pronounced than those who do not support it.

All five Erie St Clair hospital organizations in southwestern Ontario — including Bluewater Heath in Sarnia, the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance and Erie Shores Healthcare in Leamington — agreed to the same policy. However, each hospital set its own deadline on the vaccination policy.

Chatham-Kent Health Alliance said they have given staff members until Oct. 31 to be fully vaccinated.

At Erie Shores Healthcare, staff and physicians who have not been fully vaccinated are getting COVID-19 tests twice weekly. The hospital has given its staff until Oct. 4 to provide proof of having received at least one vaccine dose.

Bluewater Health's deadline is Oct. 31.

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