Hundreds of unvaccinated workers are still working at GTA hospitals, even as other health care centers in Ontario have already begun suspending employees who refuse their COVID shots.
Several hospitals in Toronto are setting a deadline from next week to the end of October, and will suspend or sack employees who haven’t received vaccinations by then, except for those with medical exemptions. This comes despite the challenges of ongoing staff shortages and burnout.
But Sunnybrook and Sinai Health will allow individuals without the vaccine to continue working if they agree to routine testing and complete an educational course on the shots.
Ontario requires it for all hospitals, but has left stricter policies up to individual institutions, something critics say puts vulnerable patients at risk.
The University Health Network, which includes Toronto General and Toronto Western Hospital, requires everyone to be fully vaccinated by October 22. This includes everyone working in the hospital, from nurses and doctors to researchers and orderlies. If they do not have the shot by then, “they will have decided they will no longer work at UHN because they are not in compliance with UHN’s policy for mandatory vaccination for COVID-19,” said spokeswoman Gillian Howard. . An emailed statement.
“This policy is in place to protect our patients and the people who work at UHN.”
He said that about 96 per cent of the staff and 99.9 per cent of the doctors have been vaccinated. Out of 16,363 employees, that adds up to about 550 illiterate people and around 200 with unknown vaccination status.
“These numbers are changing daily as people get vaccinated or report their condition,” Howard said. To date, “no one has been suspended or let go.”
Asked whether the health ministry is considering a vaccine mandate for health care workers, spokesman David Jensen said in an emailed statement that the province has “the most far-reaching mandatory vaccination policies for high-risk settings in the country.” “
Organizations have the ability to create additional policies based on the local context, he said, and with vaccine certifications in high-risk settings it will “help protect the province’s hard-to-progress.”
At a news conference on August 24, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Kieran Moore said the province’s directive “was always a baseline.”
In an email, spokeswoman Jennifer Strange said the deadline for all Unity Health employees to receive at least the first dose is October 4. Unity Health includes St. Michael’s Hospital and St. Joseph’s Health Center.
“As of November 4, any employee and physician who previously provided proof of only a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine must present proof of having received their second dose or will be placed on temporary unpaid leave of absence or suspension. Privileges,” he added.
Of the approximately 8,550 full- and part-time employees, about 95 percent provided proof of at least the first dose, and 850 are “near full compliance” for active physicians.
None of the hospitals could provide a detailed description of vaccination status based on network status.
Doris Grinspan, CEO of the Registered Nurses Association (RNAO) of Ontario, said she still hears about vaccine refusal by nurses. It’s a small minority but “a lot more.”
She is advocating for compulsory vaccination for all health care and education workers in the province, unless individuals have a valid medical exemption and then be tested 48 hours before a shift.
If they don’t comply, “they should be taken straight out of patient care,” she said, especially now that Ontarians need shots to go into non-essential places like restaurants, gyms and theaters.
“Anyone who comes into contact with patients, we can’t tolerate them without vaccination, period.”
it comes in the form of hospitals US faces potential workforce shortage With the deadline in that country approaching for vaccination. Closer to home, administrators are trying to motivate people to get shots through forums like town hall and a chance to ask questions face-to-face before the deadline hits.
At Michael Garron Hospital in Toronto’s east end, 89 percent of full-time staff and physicians (1,534 out of 1,724) are fully immunized, leaving 190 vulnerable.
There’s no exact date for the hospital’s vaccination policy yet, but it’s looking sometime in October or November. If employees do not show proof of vaccination or have not obtained a valid medical waiver by then, they will “face disciplinary action, which may include an unpaid leave of absence,” spokeswoman Katarina Brikic said in an email.
The same can be said at Trillium Health Partners in the Peel area, where all employees are expected to be fully immunized by October 20, according to spokesperson Amit Shilton, Mackenzie Health, with the deadline for Halloween, said spokeswoman Christina Sindrick. , and the North York General, where the deadline is October 29, except for those with approved medical or human rights exemptions, spokeswoman Anne-Marie Flanagan confirmed.
Meanwhile, at Sunnybrook Hospital, where 88 percent of staff are fully vaccinated, and Sinai Health, where 95 percent of staff report getting at least one dose, those who refuse will not need to get the shot.
“Sunnybrook has taken the approach of providing education to people who initially refused the shot due to vaccine hesitation or vaccine confidence issues. We do not plan to make vaccinations mandatory for employees, but will require frequent testing for those who live without vaccinations,” spokesman Sybil Miller said in an emailed statement.
Colin Furness, an epidemiologist and assistant professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto, said that although overall hospital vaccination rates are good, he thinks they “go about it the wrong way” by planning to fire or suspend Going” to those who refuse shots.
Instead, they should reassign them so they don’t come into contact with patients, giving them a choice.
“Then you don’t produce martyrs,” he said, predicting a new wave of protests around hospitals that would later collapse as the deadline passed.
But, he said, when it comes to unvaccinated staff around patients, “even one percent without vaccination is too much.”
“Every patient should be cared for only by vaccinated people, full stop.”
UHN: About 96 percent of the staff and 99.9 percent of the doctors have been vaccinated. Of the 16,363 employees, 550 have not been vaccinated and around 200 have unknown immunization status.
Unity Health: There are approximately 8,550 full- and part-time employees, and over 800 active physicians. About 95 percent of full- and part-time workers are complying with the policy – which requires them to provide proof of the first dose by October 4. For physicians, it is closer to 100 percent.
Sunnybrook: Of the 9,083 employees, 91 percent received at least one dose, and 88 percent received both. Of the approximately 1,000 physicians, 96 percent have received both doses of the vaccine.
Michael Garrone: Full-time staff and physicians who confirmed they were fully vaccinated: 89 percent (1,534/1,724). Full-time employees: 88 percent complete vaccinations (1,288/1,463). Full-time physician: 94.3 fully immunized (246/261).
North York General: Of the 4,345 staff and physicians (3,649 staff and 696 physicians), 88 percent are fully vaccinated.
Of the physicians, 98 percent are fully vaccinated and 1.4 percent partially vaccinated. For employees, 85.7 percent are fully immunized and 5.7 percent partially vaccinated.
Sinai Health: Of the 5,643 employees, 95 percent reported receiving at least one dose of the COVID vaccine.
Trillium Health Partners: Breakdown not given.
Mackenzie Health: Breakdown not given.
Scarborough Health Network: Did not reply till deadline.
Humber River Hospital: Did not reply till deadline.