Thu. May 26th, 2022

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Dozens of unvaccinated workers from three Ottawa hospitals were sent on unpaid leave Friday as COVID-19 vaccination mandates kicked in at most of the city’s hospitals.

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A total of 203 workers from Bruyère, Queensway Carleton and CHEO hospitals are now or will soon be on unpaid leave for not having received two doses of COVID-19 vaccine by 15 October. Employees at Montfort Hospital and The Royal were also required to be fully vaccinated by October 15 to continue work. These hospitals have not yet published the number of affected staff.

Workers at Ottawa Hospital, the region’s largest with about 12,000 employees, have until Nov. 1 to abide by its mandate.

Overall, vaccination rates among city hospital workers are high — significantly higher than province-wide numbers, as Premier Doug Ford mentioned during a news conference Friday. Ford suggested that as many as 15 percent of hospital workers across the province remain unvaccinated, a figure based on a recent study, according to his staff.

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Ford sent a letter to hospital managers on Friday, asking, among other things, what impact vaccination mandates could have on staffing challenges and the delivery of care. Many hospitals, including all in Ottawa, have implemented their own vaccination mandates, but Ford said some are asking the county to do the same as it has done in other provinces. The Quebec government recently postponed a decision to place up to 22,000 unvaccinated health workers on leave, mainly because of the impact it could have on the health system.

In Ottawa, the number of hospital vaccinations is well above the rates for the general population. At CHEO, for example. 99.3 percent of full-time employees and 97.6 percent of part-time and leisure employees are fully vaccinated — and the majority of those who were not vaccinated are part-time or leisure workers, which officials say will have less impact on staffing.

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However, the loss of workers can have an impact on an already strained health care system. By the end of the summer, there were about 750 nurses open throughout the region.

At Bruyère Hospital, 91 percent of staff are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and a further three percent are on their way to being fully vaccinated within a few days, according to officials there. That leaves 119 employees who have not complied with the mandatory vaccination policy and have now been allowed to leave.

The hospital, like others, has struggled to fill vacancies in recent months, forcing it to temporarily close some beds at its Saint-Vincent location.

In a statement, the hospital said it has staffing plans in place in the coming weeks “and will continue to work on contingency plans with our teams to address any short-term staffing pressures created through this new policy.” Bruyère specializes in rehabilitation and complex care.

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Bruyère also noted that the 119 employees (out of a total workforce of 2,298) include 50 full-time and part-time workers and 69 temporary workers. That equates to about three percent of the full-time and part-time workforce and nine percent of part-time workers.

38 unvaccinated staff from Queensway Carleton Hospital were on leave for non-compliance with the COVID-19 vaccine mandate, said Greg Hedgecoe, vice president of human, performance improvement and diagnostic services at the hospital.

Ninety-eight percent of staff “made the choice to be vaccinated — to protect each other and protect the patients entrusted with our care,” the hospital said in a statement.

Hedgecoe said unvaccinated employees are given several weeks to reconsider their decisions, but if they choose to remain unvaccinated, they will “no longer be hired.”

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Hedgecoe noted that only two employees on leave are full-time nurses.

“Our hospital made a great effort to communicate the benefits of vaccination. Ultimately, I believe our staff has just made the right choice for their own safety and the safety of their colleagues and to ensure the health and safety of patients. ”

CHEO, which was among the first hospitals in the province to announce a mandatory vaccination policy, said 47 staff, including 29 part-time and part-time workers, have been placed on unpaid leave. A total of 3,815 people work at the hospital. Three employees have been granted medical exemption.

About 70 percent of children and adolescents served in the hospital are not eligible for vaccination.

On Friday, the province’s chief physician for health, Dr. Kieran Moore that it is “the duty of every healthcare professional” to be immunized against COVID-19.

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