Barry’s Bay – Health care workers at St. Francis Memorial Hospital and Valley Manor are dealing with mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policies and in response to a community protest, both institutions released statements explaining their policies.
St. Francis Memorial Hospital noted provisions will be in place to protect and maintain hospital programs and services if staff are placed on leave because they are unvaccinated.
“Protecting our staff, physicians and vulnerable patients is our top priority,” CEO Julia Boudreau noted. “Getting the vaccine, which data has shown to be safe, is essential to ensure that everyone working or receiving services or care in our hospital environment is protected from COVID-19.”
She noted the vaccination policy, under Directive from the Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health, is in line with the majority of hospitals in the province. The policy makes vaccination mandatory for staff, physicians, students, contractors and volunteers. Mandatory vaccination is required by October 31.
The hospital noted current policy “is consistent with partners across our region and, in fact, the majority of hospitals in the province, and may soon be mandated for all health care workers by our provincial government.”
Current vaccination rates at the hospital are about 90 percent for staff and doctors.
“Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated health care workers pose a patient safety risk with the potential to introduce COVID-19 in the hospital setting and/or transmit the virus to vulnerable patients and workers,” the release noted. “Mandatory health care worker vaccination will help to stabilize and protect the hospital workforce and ensure fewer absences due to illness or self-isolation, so that hospital operations and patient care are not disrupted,” the release stated.
The hospital also noted vaccine policies for health care workers is not new. It is consistent with the approach hospitals are required to take with other infectious diseases.
“Health care workers in Ontario hospitals must show evidence of immunity for many communicable diseases including measles, rubella, varicella, tuberculosis and others,” the release noted.
Trisha Deslauriers, the CEO of Valley Manor, noted no staff member, support worker, student or volunteer who has not been fully vaccinated will be allowed to enter the home unless they have a valid medical exemption.
“Ensuring that all individuals who work, train or volunteer in a long-term care home are vaccinated is critical to protecting all of our residents and staff. The safety of our residents and staff is top priority at Valley Manor,” she said.
Vaccination will reduce the risk of outbreaks and the need to isolate residents, she pointed out.
“Valley Manor’s vaccination rate has slowly been improving; however, it still is not at the level that it should be. 108 out of 130 staff are fully vaccinated at Valley Manor,” she said. “The residents have expressed great concern over having unvaccinated staff working with them so this directive is in line with the residents’ wishes and their rights. It is the residents’ home.”
Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader