Healthcare leaders worried as Supreme Court upholds vaccine mandate for many healthcare workers

Hospital Hallway
Posted at 10:24 PM, Jan 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-13 23:17:08-05

AKRON, Ohio — Inside Akron Children’s Hospital, there are some staff members missing.

This past Monday the hospital placed unvaccinated employees who do not have an approved medical or religious exemption on unpaid leave.

“I think we should all not come to work if we are sick regardless of our vaccine status,” said Faith Lanshe, a nursing practitioner at the hospital. “I think that everybody has a right to bodily autonomy and to make an informed decision based on their own health and own risk.”

Lanshe said her religious exemption was approved, but she knows others who were not.

“I think it really doesn’t make sense that some of us are approved based on our beliefs and continue working without the injection and some people were not approved,” said Lanshe.

Since several people are currently on unpaid leave due to the vaccine, Lanshe said she is taking early retirement after working 32 years for the hospital.

“I feel it’s the right thing to do for me,” said Lanshe. “I want to stand in solidarity with people who are being suspended for their religious belief and I believe in America we have the right to choose.”

The hospital’s mandate falls in line with President Joe Biden’s federal mandate requiring all healthcare workers to be vaccinated.

Thursday after a big battle, the supreme court blocked the administration's vax or test requirements for businesses of 100 or employees, but the court upheld the vaccine mandate for medical facilities that accept Medicare or Medicaid payments.

“Our members are extremely concerned, particularly in the more rural parts of the state that they could lose a lot of their staff, and they're already very short-staffed,” Pete Van Runkle with the Ohio Healthcare Association.

But the court's ruling said the mandate falls in line with keeping patients safe, saying "ensuring providers take steps to avoid transmitting a deadly virus is consistent with the fundamental principle of the medical profession: first, do no harm."

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