Bluewater Health hospital in Sarnia. 9 September 2020. ( photo by Colin Gowdy)Bluewater Health hospital in Sarnia. 9 September 2020. ( photo by Colin Gowdy)

Vaccine mandate leads to 18 terminations at Bluewater Health

Eighteen Bluewater Health team members are being terminated Monday, for not complying with the hospital's mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy.

In September, the hospital announced staff and professional staff had until October 31 to be fully vaccinated to work at Bluewater Health.

Communications Chief Julia Oosterman said the hospital achieved higher than a 99 per cent vaccination rate.

"Which is great news.  We were aiming for 100 per cent -- our intent was to have no layoffs and no terminations.  We do have 18 team members who opted not to comply with the policy, and they will be receiving termination letters today."

Oosterman said there are an additional 25 staff members who will be on a short unpaid leave of absence while they're in the process of finishing off their vaccination.

She said among those who are being terminated, only three or four of them work in full-time clinical roles.

"So it's actually quite a small percentage.  We have about 1,900 employees in the hospital, and to have only three or four of them in full-time clinical roles, that makes it very manageable for us."

Oosterman said predominately, there will be no disruption of services, as far as the hospital knows at this time.

"Between being able to manage with the staff that we currently have on site, as well as hiring -- we've been posting against these jobs for a while [because] we were aware of some of these individuals and we were aware that they were choosing to not have vaccinations -- so I think we're in good shape."

In a media release, Bluewater Health said "the policy is part of a progressive plan to ensure all employees, Professional Staff, affiliates, volunteers, and students are vaccinated against COVID-19, unless they have a valid exemption."

Oosterman said she did not have information at this time about whether any medical exemptions were granted to staff.

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