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Will Methodist fire its unvaccinated workers?

In two weeks, if they haven’t gotten vaccinated, the answer is Yes.

Dozens of cheering supporters gathered outside the Houston Methodist Baytown campus Monday evening as several medical workers who refused to get a COVID-19 vaccine ended their last shifts working for the hospital system.

The act of protest was aimed at what workers said was the hospital’s decision to suspend employees for two weeks without pay and then fire them for failing to immunize themselves.

Jennifer Bridges, a nurse who effectively lost her job at the Baytown facility for deciding not to be inoculated, said the goal was to stage a walkout but that did not go as planned. Participating employees who refused the vaccine’s first dose were told not to gather or linger on the hospital grounds after ending their shift, she said.

“The hospital wouldn’t let us do it,” Bridges said.

She got out of work early, emptied her locker and gathered with others on a grassy medium near the ambulance entrance to the hospital. Bridges fished a paper out of a backpack — a suspension report — that she had been asked to sign. She refused, she continued.

About 117 employees in May filed a class action lawsuit against the health system for requiring its workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Bridges said the plaintiffs in the suit are a mix of those who want more trial data to emerge on the long-term effects of the vaccine before taking it, and those who simply don’t want any shots.

Sorry, I’m with Methodist on this. I cannot see any reason why health care workers – who by the way were already required to get a flu shot every year – should be able to opt out of this. If the concern is that we still don’t know enough about the potential negative effects of the vaccines, which at this point have emergency authorization from the FDA and not full clearance yet, all I can say is that over 300 million doses have been administered so far, with basically zero serious negative effects. There’s no way that the risk analysis comes out more favorably for not being vaccinated. Hiring Jared Woodfill as your attorney for that class action lawsuit doesn’t say much for one’s commitment to science, either.

In the end, it’s a pretty small number of employees who are affected.

While nearly 25,000 Houston Methodist workers are now vaccinated against COVID-19, 178 employees are now suspended without pay for not receiving a shot.

In a Tuesday memo to hospital staff, Houston Methodist CEO Marc Boom said 27 of the 178 workers who have not been fully vaccinated have received at least one dose of the vaccine. If they comply, they will not face termination.

“I wish the number could be zero, but unfortunately, a small number of individuals have decided not to put their patients first,” Boom said.

More than 600 employees were granted deferrals or exemptions for medical or religious reasons, the hospital said.

The hospital will have a final number of employees fired for not complying with the vaccine mandate in two weeks. Houston Methodist also requires its workers to get an annual flu shot.

That’s 0.7% of the Methodist workforce that was affected, and some of them have already decided it wasn’t worth getting fired over. Good for them. All of these folks did have a choice, and they made it. That there are consequences is just how life is sometimes. Erica Greider and the Press have more.

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10 Comments

  1. Jason Hochman says:

    The wealthy industrialists and wanna be autocrats like Trump are probably watching closely. If Trump gets his second term, he will be able to smash the unions and impose right to work everywhere, when he sees that progressives are now siding with management and right to work laws. Also not sure what Jared Woodfill has to do with one’s commitment to science, nor is there any science that says requiring vaccinations is scientific. I am the smartest person in the world, and so say I.

  2. Mainstream says:

    We Republicans historically have respected the rights of private employers to set the rules at their workplaces.

    I would not like to think that a sick or elderly relative in the hospital is being cared for by an unvaccinated person.

  3. policywonqueria says:

    Two issues here that represent the status quo of public policy:

    Right of employer to control employee, which includes right to set rules that employee must comply with (subject to legal limitations), or don’t work there. Employer-employee relationships, after all, require mutual assent. No conscription or forced labor here.

    Duty of employer as service provider to provide the service in question to customers in a safe manner and setting, which is especially important in the health care sector because of heightened vulnerabiliy of the patient-customers.

  4. Manny says:

    Mainstream, those days are long gone.

  5. Jason Hochman says:

    You see, there we have the Republicans already planning on a new age of robber barons, and if you lose an arm at work, you are just outta luck. Hopefully you have parents or a wife that can support you.

    The Republicans are in shambles, as they believe their crazed orange leader who thinks that he’ll be reinstated as president at random dates that pop into his mind. If the Progressives listened to Maxine Waters, and took it to the Man, smash it up, get into the streets, then the Republicans would be broken.

    We could have two parties, the Progressives and the Communists.

    An unvaccinated person poses no risk to a sick or elderly patient who is vaccinated, and, just because you aren’t vaccinated, does not mean that you have an illness.

    Having a family member in the hospital is a grave risk at all times. Medical error kills 250,000 patients a year, according to a Purdue study published in 2017. It is the third leading cause of death in the US. Of course, with Covid, that number disappeared. They just classified it all as Covid deaths.

  6. Bill Daniels says:

    It’s amazing that Trump supporters are the ‘my body, my choice’ folks here, and the leftists are the authoritarian, ‘you’ll do what you’re told and STFU”‘ folks. Weird role reversal.

  7. Mainstream says:

    Bill, Whose body, whose choice? If I am sick and have to go to the hospital, can I protect my body by insisting on having a choice of vaccinated staff caring for me?

    Maybe these misguided nurses who refuse to protect the safety of their patients could go work in telemedicine.

  8. Jason Hochman says:

    Bill, what is more unusual is that the leftists are supporting The Man, union busting, right to work, and support the wealthy.

    The Covid crisis has caused the largest transfer of wealth in history. The wealthy would love it to go on forever. Even with all of their wealth, they want more.

    Medicine today is big money. The old time doctor’s office with a local physician is a rarity and med schools teach students to be corporate drones, a large emphasis on spending about 10 minutes with a patient, writing prescriptions, and documenting everything, in a computer, so that the enterprise system can coordinate billing, progress notes, prescriptions, appointments, vitals, all in one system, and keep everything on file because you might see different staff the next time.

    Methodist is especially into upselling. When I had my broken thumb they wanted to sell me a pin. But I chose not to get it, and the thumb healed just fine without it. Not saying that their care is bad, but I have nothing but disdain for the corporate greed of the C level there.

    Maybe as a Catholic I just have some prejudice against the Protestant faiths. They eliminated some of the best books in the Bible. Maccabees and Tobit come to mind. Certainly Catholic Health Initiatives is not much better…CHI has some joint venture with St Luke’s Episcopal in some ecumenical healthcare hereafter. Yes, healthcare is just big business, and medical errors kill a lot of people every year.

  9. Manny says:

    The racists, Bill and Jason, never cease their disinformation postings. One is a Russian bot, the other a racist tool of the fascists.

  10. policywonqueria says:

    VACCINATION AND EMPLOYMENT TERMINATION AT WILL

    U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes has promptly dismissed Woodfill’s complaint against the hospitals.

    The order, signed Saturday, gives effect to the at-will employment doctrine and also rejects other arguments, including the human guinea pig theory and a far-fetched analogy with medical experiments in concentration camps under Hitler.

    It also cites Jacobson Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11 (1905), in which SCOTUS ruled that a state’s compulsory vaccination law did not violate the Fourteenth Amendment. Jacobson has been cited profusely in litigation involving pandemic restrictions.

    Exerpt from the 5-page order follows:

    She also says that the injection requirement is invalid because it violates the Nuremberg Code, and she likens the threat of termination in this case to forced medical experimentation during the Holocaust. The Nuremberg Code does not apply because Methodist is a private employer, not a government.

    Equating the injection requirement to medical experimentation in concentration camps is reprehensible. Nazi doctors conducted medical experiments on victims that caused pain, mutilation, permanent disability, and in many cases, death.

    Although her claims fail as a matter of law, it is also necessary to clarify that
    Bridges has not been coerced. Bridges says that she is being forced to be injected with a vaccine or be fired. This is not coercion. Methodist is trying to do their business of saving lives without giving them the COVID -19 virus. It is a
    choice made to keep staff, patients, and their families safer. Bridges can freely choose to accept or refuse a COVID-19 vaccine; however, if she refuses, she will
    simply need to work somewhere else.

    If a worker refuses an assignment, changed office, earlier start time, or other directive, he may be properly fired. Every employment includes limits on the worker’s behavior in exchange for his remuneration. That is all part of the
    bargain.”

    Jennifer Bridges, et al. v. Houston Methodist Hospital, et al. Civil Action H-21-1774
    (S.D. Tex, June 6, 2021) (Order dismissing complaint with take-nothing language)
    https://int.nyt.com/data/documenttools/houston-methodist-court-ruling/3468984fc566cea5/full.pdf

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