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Some Louisville healthcare workers receive letters of termination, lose jobs for not getting vaccinated

Updated: Sep. 16, 2021 at 4:02 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The deadline for all staff to get vaccinated in two of Louisville’s healthcare systems has passed, and those who chose not to get it are out of a job, or were told they’ll be fired.

UofL Health announced the vaccine requirement in May. Employees had until Sept. 15 to receive the first dose. According to a statement from a UofL Health spokesperson, all staff are currently either fully vaccinated, have started the process, or have received a medical or religious exemption.

The statement added that fewer than five employees chose to separate their employment due to the vaccine requirement. It is unclear if the staff members quit or were fired.

“UofL Health extends its gratitude to our 12,000+ health care heroes for their collective and individual support of COVID-19 vaccines. We are proud to report our team is either fully vaccinated, has begun the regimen, or filed for a medical/religious exemption. 18 months into this pandemic, the overwhelming support for the vaccines reflects the ongoing resolve of every team member, clinical and non-clinical, to ensure we continue protecting our patients, co-workers, their families, and the community.

Today, to our knowledge, throughout our entire system, less than five team members chose to separate their employment from UofL Health due to the vaccine requirement. We respect their choice and extend appreciation for their service.”

Norton Healthcare announced its vaccine requirement in August, and set a deadline for all staff to receive their first shot by Sept. 15. More than 99 percent of its employees are vaccinated, according to a statement sent to WAVE 3 News.

Employees who did not comply were sent letters of termination effective Oct. 1 if they do not receive the vaccine before then.

“We are pleased to report over 99% of Norton Healthcare employees are compliant with our COVID-19 vaccine requirement. We thank all of our employees who have stepped up during these challenging times to receive their COVID-19 vaccine and care for our patients, their families, our community and each other. Those who remained non-compliant were sent a notice of termination, effective October 1. Employees who comply with the vaccine requirement before Oct. 1 may continue to be employed.”

Baptist Health employees have until Oct. 31 to get the vaccine, however all medical and religious exemptions were to be sent in by Sept. 15.

Seventy percent of Baptist Health employees already had received the vaccine when the healthcare system announced its mandate in August. It has not checked the numbers since then.

Baptist Health Floyd Chief Medical Officer Dr. Emily Volk told WAVE 3 News that more people are changing their minds about the shots.

“The good news is we are seeing folks who haven’t gotten vaccinated up to this point, who are now stepping up to get vaccinated,” she said. “I think it’s somewhat because of these mandates, and they’re finally coming around.”

Baptist Health’s chief operating officer, Patrick Falvey, sent the following statement to WAVE 3 News:

“For those Baptist Health employees intending to receive the two-shot Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, today (Sept. 15) is a milestone to submit a request for medical or religious deferment/exemption or for initiating the vaccine series with at target date of being fully vaccinated by Oct. 31. Those opting for the two-shot Moderna or single shot Johnson & Johnson vaccines have more time to meet the requirements.

Some 70 percent of Baptist Health’s current workforce was already vaccinated when the requirement was announced on Aug. 5. We know that many more employees have been vaccinated, but new numbers are not yet available.

We are hopeful that the FDA’s full approval of the Pfizer vaccine as meeting high standards for safety, effectiveness and manufacturing quality does persuade our remaining staff – and members of the public – to be vaccinated.”

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