Get vaccinated or get fired.
That is the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance’s message to their staff as hospitals across the region are cracking down on unvaccinated staff.
According to CKHA President and CEO Lori Marshall, CKHA, along with hospitals in Sarnia, Leamington, and Windsor, have released a joint 100 percent mandatory vaccine policy for staff, going above and beyond direction from the Province.
This means all staff at the two Chatham-Kent Health Alliance hospital sites will need to be fully vaccinated by the end of next month.
“The most severe impacts are affecting those who are unvaccinated,” said Marshall. “We believe as a healthcare organization, CKHA must do everything we possibly can to create a safe place for people to receive their care, to work, and to practise in. Vaccination is the best defence against a very persistent virus.”
CKHA currently employs 1335 people.
Marshall said she hopes they won’t lose any staff as a result of the new policy but believes it is in the best interest of staff, patients, and the community at large.
However, according to Chief Nursing Executive Meredith Whitehead, the reaction from staff has been relatively positive so far.
“What we’ve heard so far is what we would expect, which is a little bit of hoping for some details we don’t have yet as the policy is under development,” Whitehead says. “I would say the majority are very positive. They’re happy that their colleagues and themselves will all be at the same level of protection.”
Effective Oct. 31, all health alliance staff, professional staff and volunteers, including board members, students and contractors, will be required to have two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. The first dose of a two-dose series must be received by Sept. 18, with a subsequent dose no later than Oct. 17, in order to be deemed fully vaccinated by Oct. 31.
“Staff that are not fully vaccinated nor have provided a valid exemption by Oct. 31, 2021, will have their employment terminated; or for professional staff, their privileges suspended on an immediate mid-term basis,” the hospital stated.
As of Sept. 9, Marshall said the vaccination rate at CKHA was 86 percent. Less than 50 employees have received their first shot, but not their second.
The updated CKHA policy is as follows:
- All new hires are required to be fully vaccinated on their first day of employment. If not fully vaccinated, the new hires’ offer of employment may be rescinded;
- All students must be fully vaccinated before their first day of learning on-site at health alliance hospitals;
- All volunteers, including board members;
- All contracted service agencies or contractors. A medical exemption may be sought as outlined by the directive in exceptional circumstances. If approved, testing will need to be arranged and discussed prior to the individual attending hospital property;
- Any other personnel who have office space within CKHA’s buildings and maintain on-site work.
Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News