Group protests outside hospital as employee vaccination deadline arrives at Ascension Via Christi

Published: Nov. 12, 2021 at 6:33 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - A group opposing an employee vaccination requirement for Ascension Via Christi gathered outside the hospital as the mandate went into effect at 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 12. Via Christi announced the mandate in late July, warning employees that they must get a COVID-19 vaccine to continue working. Some employees are now willingly leaving the job.

The deadline for the federal vaccine mandate from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is still two months away, but some hospitals in Kansas set earlier deadlines. And now some healthcare workers are losing their jobs over refusal of the vaccines.

“We all know we’ve all heard that workforce and healthcare just like so many industries across the country and in Kansas is one of our most critical challenges right now to retain a strong, healthy workforce. And so it is something that there might be some individuals that with this federal mandate, are thinking, ‘I’m not going to opt in and do this,’” said Kansas Hospital Association Senior Vice President Cindy Samuelson. “And that’s going to be super unfortunate because hospitals across our state can’t afford to lose any staff. "

The Kansas Hospital Association reported that St. Luke’s Hospital, in the Kansas City metro, lost more than 100 workers over COVID-19 vaccine refusal. The total only accounts for about one percent of nearly 12,000 employees at the hospital. However that is still employees hospitals can’t afford to lose as hospital systems continue to struggle with staffing shortages.

The Kansas Hospital Association is assessing the impact of the vaccine requirement, but hospitals may have to cut services if too many employees are forced out.

“If you have workforce leaving, that might mean hospitals have to limit the hours they have certain services available,” Samuelson said. “It might mean that they have to no longer do some services.”

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