Local hospitals adjust to COVID-19 vaccine mandate, premier asks hospital CEOs thoughts on policy
As Premier Doug Ford awaits the response from hospital CEOs across Ontario regarding their thoughts on a vaccine policy for staff, local hospitals are adjusting to the mandate already implemented.
The mandatory COVID-19 vaccine policy went into effect for Waterloo Region and Wellington County hospitals on Wednesday, resulting in hundreds of staff being placed on unpaid leaves.
Grand River Hospital in Kitchener initially put 170 staff and physicians on leave, but CEO Ron Gagnon says that number has since dropped to 124.
“It shows you the impact of having this policy, because those numbers continue to come down,” he said. “Yesterday there was even some of that group who have now stepped forward and are getting their first vaccination, so that’s great.”
Over at St. Mary’s in Kitchener, 27 staff are on unpaid leave, 51 at Cambridge Memorial, and 31 at Guelph General.
“It made me feel very sad,” said Dr. Nicola Mercer, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph’s Medical Officer of Health. “These are good, well-paying jobs, and for people who have often been in these institutions for some time.”
On Friday, Ford issued a letter to hospital CEO’s asking their input on the policies, which are not province-wide.
“I’m going to continue to preach that I want every single health care worker to get vaccinated,” he said. “People have to look at the ramifications down the road, where are we going to be in two or three months when they’re short tens of thousands of people, nurses, and doctors?”
Gagnon says the shortage of workers has led to one less operating room at Grand River.
“We have come down one operating room,” he said. “We were operating one additional room compared to what we normally do, so we are back to our normal.
“I continue to be 100 per cent confident we are following the right approach when it comes to protecting our staff, protecting our community, and protecting our patients.”
Ford is asking all hospitals to respond to his letter by next Tuesday.