Most Waterloo Region hospital staff fully vaccinated as deadline to show proof approaches
With the deadline looming for staff at hospitals in Waterloo Region to show proof of full COVID-19 vaccination, newly released figures show most have received both jabs.
At the beginning of the month, seven local hospitals and health care centres across Waterloo Region and Wellington County released a joint statement saying staff must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 12 or be put on leave without pay.
Cambridge Memorial Hospital said as of Monday, 93.7 per cent of its staff is fully vaccinated.
Wellington Health Care Alliance, which includes hospitals in Fergus and Palmerston, said 93.2 per cent of its staff are fully vaccinated.
Officials with Wellington County Health said 93.2 per cent of the 619 total staff at Groves Memorial Community Hospital and North Wellington Health Care are fully vaccinated, with an additional 2.7 per cent having received their first dose.
Grand River Hospital did not provide vaccination figures on Monday but aims to have the numbers available this week.
At St. Mary's General Hospital, 94 per cent of staff are fully vaccinated.
When the policy was first announced at the beginning of September, 89 per cent of staff were known to be fully vaccinated.
"As part of the vaccination policy timelines, staff have until October 12 to become fully vaccinated or have a medical or legal exemption on file with Employee Health," the hospital said in a statement. "Those who are not vaccinated or do not have an exemption will be placed on an unpaid leave of absence as of this date and individuals on unpaid leave due to their vaccination status will have until November 9 to submit their COVID-19 receipts.”
It remains unclear what will happen to staff who do not have proof of vaccination or an exemption by Nov. 9.
In August, the province mandated that hospitals come up with vaccination policies, some of which are slightly different and come with different deadlines.
"This will be a good additional step to make sure we can really get as close to 100 per cent as we can," said Lee Fairclough, president of St. Mary's. "Given the experience we have had with Delta in this region, we really think this is the right thing to do."
Last week, Windsor Regional Hospital put 140 employees, fewer than four per cent of their work force, on unpaid leave. The staff there were required to show proof of a least a first dose by Sept. 22.
Windsor staff who do not prove their vaccination before Oct. 7 will be terminated.
The Registered Nurses Associaton of Ontario (RNAO) believes the province should have mandated shots for all health care workers.
"The RNOA is saying that health care workers that are not fully vaccinated cannot be facing patients," said association president Doris Grinspun. "The more people that get sick, the more the [nurse] shortage will impact."