Hospitals ask unvaccinated workers back
Some local governments still suffering vacancies
Yudi Sherman, Frontline News, August 15, 2023
Several hospitals are expressing interest in rehiring employees they fired for refusing the COVID-19 shots.
Unvaccinated workers who were fired from MaineGeneral Health reported last week receiving text messages from the healthcare provider asking for their return.
“You were once a proud member of the MaineGeneral team. Would you consider rejoining us? We would be pleased to discuss options with you,” the MaineGeneral Health Recruitment team is reportedly asking employees, adding that the hospital was only following orders.
“As you know, nearly 2 years ago MaineGeneral had to comply with a state mandate for COVID-19 vaccination. We lost a number of great employees as a result, including you.”
In 2021 MaineGeneral fired around 200 employees, or 4% of its workforce, for not complying with the vaccine mandate. All religious exemption requests were denied and some employees were charged with misconduct. Many workers were denied unemployment benefits.
In its recent messages to terminated healthcare workers, MaineGeneral says it has removed COVID-19 vaccination as an employment condition because the state’s vaccine mandate for healthcare workers was rescinded on August 3rd.
“I was livid. Like, how dare you force me out of a career that I’ve dedicated my whole life to, taken away my livelihood, my ability to earn a good income, and now you think I’m gonna come grovel back to you?” Nurse Terry Poland told the Maine Wire. “I don’t hardly think so. And that’s the attitude of most everybody that I’ve been in contact with since yesterday.”
Hospitals in Syracuse, New York are also looking to rehire unvaccinated workers after the New York Health Department announced in May it would no longer enforce vaccine mandates for unvaccinated healthcare workers. St. Joseph’s Health, which fired 111 employees for refusing the shots, still has 80% of the positions vacant, reports Syracuse.com. Crouse Hospital is also seeking to rehire the 28 unvaccinated employees it terminated.
“Our talent acquisition team is actively contacting our former colleagues, encouraging them to consider returning to the organization,” St. Joseph’s Dr. Philip Falcone said in a statement.
But not only hospitals are seeking to fill the voids left by unvaccinated employees. In Washington, a King County Council committee motion was put forth last month to rehire unvaccinated employees as the county suffers from staff shortages across departments.
Eight employees retired, 25 resigned, and 281 employees were fired over King County’s mandate. Now the Seattle Weekly reports that the local government has 2,143 full-time vacancies.
“Now, I certainly got my COVID shot before it was mandated, and I felt it was important to do so,” King County Corrections Guild Vice President Randy Weaver told the King County Council. “We still have a 20% vacancy rate. We still are impacted by large amounts of mandatory overtime. If this helps us just get a couple of our experienced employees back, it helps us. Not only does it tell someone we value their . . . years of experience — bringing them back where they left off — that also tells employees still working here that we value you.”