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Canadian News Sep 25, 2021 6:24 PM EST

Kingston hospitals place 136 employees on unpaid leave for not receiving COVID vaccine

The Kingston Health Science Centre (KHSC) placed 136 employees on two-week, unpaid leave for failure to comply with its vaccine mandate.

Kingston hospitals place 136 employees on unpaid leave for not receiving COVID vaccine
Adam Dobrer Vancouver

The Kingston Health Science Centre (KHSC) placed 136 employees on two-week, unpaid leave for failure to comply with its vaccine mandate. All staff, physicians and students needed to prove they received at least one Health Canada approved COVID-19 vaccine or proof of a medical exemption by September 22.

In a statement to CTV News, KHSC said that "employees are in non-compliance with our immunization policy and have been placed on an unpaid two-week administrative leave," adding that "following those two weeks, further disciplinary [action] may be taken, up to and including termination." KHSC did not comment on what categories of employees were unvaccinated or how many were nurses or physicians.

KHSC healthcare workers who are not yet fully vaccinated had until September 21 to receive their first dose and until October 22 to receive their second dose. This phased approach ensures anyone who has not yet been vaccinated has the necessary time to receive both doses.

According to KHSC COVID-19 incident commander Elizabeth Bardon, this policy is necessary to avoid another outbreak of COVID-19 like the hospital faced in the summer:

"Having staff who have to go off work because they've been exposed, or worse are bringing COVID in and exposing their patients and our co-workers is just not something that we feel we can manage during COVID, and so this the way we're going as many other hospitals in the province are," said Bardon Thursday afternoon.

She continued: "We have informed people that they will go into a disciplinary stream for failing to abide by a policy. And we will work out the next steps with our people services team over the next couple of weeks."

The KHSC includes Kingston General Hospital, the Hotel Dieu Hospital and the Cancer Centre of Southeastern Ontario.

"As an organization, we strongly believe that vaccination is the top preventive strategy against COVID-19, in conjunction with screening, wearing personal protective equipment such as masks, and physical distancing," said KHSC.

"As health-care providers, we have an ethical and professional obligation to take all necessary steps to keep our patients, families and each other safe from COVID-19."

There are 5,000 employees at the KHSC, including nurses and doctors. Ninety-five percent of them have met the first dose requirement.

Fewer than ten employees received a medical exemption.

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