HDGH suspends 30, while ESHC vaccination deadline looms

HDGH CEO Janice Kaffer. Screenshot from WECHU daily update on YouTube.

Saying the hospital can’t allow a repeat of COVID-19 outbreaks earlier in the pandemic, the CEO at Hotel Dieu Grace Healthcare’s advice to those who haven’t gotten their COVID-19 vaccinations yet is simple.

“Get vaccinated,” advised Janice Kaffer.

At the height of an outbreak, less than a year ago, 30 staff members and 14 patients tested positive for the virus, a perilous situation given that many of the patients at Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare are in a fragile state, elderly, many with comorbidities, some living on ventilators.

Despite that, there are currently 30 employees on an unpaid leave of absence because they still haven’t been vaccinated. Off the job for a week, they have until next Wednesday to comply with the hospital’s mandatory vaccination policy or face termination.

Kaffer admitted the loss would leave the hospital even more short-staffed. Even before the pandemic, the hospital struggled to find new registered nurses in a competitive market where hospitals in Michigan have an edge. Campaigns to hire RPNs have been more successful.

“The whole system is struggling — we want them back,” she said, referring to provincial cost-cutting measures that pre-date COVID-19. “But that’s not a reason to not take precautions.”

Still, Kaffer is grateful more than 96 per cent of the over 1,100 workers are either partially or fully vaccinated.

Kingsville town council candidate, Kevin Black. (Photo courtesy of Kevin Black)

Erie Shores Healthcare Communications Coordinator, Kevin Black. (Photo courtesy of Kevin Black)

At Erie Shores Healthcare, the deadline for staff to get at least their first dose of the vaccine is Monday before they too will be placed on a two-week unpaid leave of absence.

Communications coordinator Kevin Black said there was 21 staff who had not yet notified the hospital of their status.

That hospital is reaching out to those employees, encouraging them to get their shots, and Black believes the number will be fewer by the deadline.

If not, their termination date will be October 18.

Vaccination rates at the hospital in Leamington are similar to those at Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare, over 95 per cent of the 438 employees have had one if not two doses.

As of September 22, Windsor Regional Hospital placed 140 workers on unpaid leave after 97 per cent of its staff got vaccinated. Those employees have until October 6 to get their shots or lose their jobs.