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As hoped, fewer recent hospital firings over vaccination policy

The NBRHC president and CEO said 10 days ago he was 'optimistic a number of the other people that were considering non-compliance of the policy will change their minds...'
2020 08 15 North Bay Regional Health Centre NBRHC (Gage Campaigne)(1)
North Bay Regional Health Centre

Just as North Bay Regional Centre President and CEO Paul Heinrich had hoped, employee terminations due to non-compliance with the hospital's employee vaccination policy have slowed to a trickle after an initial wave of firings nearly two weeks ago.

Heinrich said on October 8 he was "optimistic a number of the other people that were considering non-compliance of the policy will change their minds. That would please me more than anything else. Our workforce is our biggest asset."

So far, that's what has transpired. While "fewer than 10 employees" lost their jobs in the original disciplinary phase of the policy, the total number of terminated employees now stands at "exactly 10," according to Kim McElroy, NBRHC's Director of Communications. 

See related: Terminations started at local hospital over COVID non-compliance

In early October, NBRHC estimated 40 non-compliant employees were on a path to dismissal. Options for compliance for hospital staff include providing proof of full vaccination, written proof of medical contraindication, or participation in weekly rapid antigen testing.

Heinrich took a firm stance on the hospital's policy following the first series of terminations, saying he felt "quite bad for those who made a very poor choice," but those former employees left the administration with no choice but to begin handing out termination notices after their refusal to comply despite a multi-step vaccination education program and disciplinary warning process.

See also: Employees fired over vax policy 'made a bad choice' says hospital top boss

He added then, "The employees went through a progressive discipline process. By the book. They chose to be non-compliant with our policy. They made the choice. It was a bad choice. It's very unfortunate but when you make choices, you have to live with the consequences."

The hospital’s policy follows guidance from Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health in the form of Directive #6. It states many health care workers in higher-risk settings remain unvaccinated, "posing risks to patients and health care system capacity due to the potential (re)introduction of COVID-19 in those settings, placing both health care workers and patients at risk due to COVID-19 infection."

NBRHC implemented and ensured compliance with a COVID-19 vaccination policy requiring its employees, staff, contractors, volunteers and students to provide proof of full vaccination or written proof from a physician or registered nurse that sets out a documented medical reason for not being fully vaccinated against COVID-19, within an established timeframe.

Heinrich is unequivocally proud of the work done at NBRHC, especially throughout the pandemic.

"I think we've become that much better equipped to address all of the challenges that are ahead of us. Our team only got stronger, more intelligent, more efficient — and more caring as a result of an incredible challenge that really hit health care and our hospital in an extreme way."


Stu Campaigne

About the Author: Stu Campaigne

Stu Campaigne is a full-time news reporter for BayToday.ca, focusing on local politics and sharing our community's compelling human interest stories.
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