Thirty-nine employees at Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH) have lost their jobs for not complying with COVID-19 vaccination and testing policies.
Another three professional staff are also no longer connected to the Barrie hospital.
“All current employees and credential staff are in compliance with our mandatory vaccination policy,” RVH president and CEO Janice Skot told BarrieToday.
Additionally, 99.26 per cent of the organization is vaccinated and the remaining .74 per cent — less than one per cent — are in the final stages of becoming fully vaccinated, she added.
“Overall, the policy has been very effective from the safety perspective," Skot said.
That .74 per cent includes those who are waiting for their second dose, have temporary or medical exemptions or have human-rights exemptions. They remain on the job working.
Of the 39 terminated, 16 were either registered nurses or registered practical nurses and mostly casual, temporary or part-time employees. The remainder were largely support positions.
In addition, three of the 576 professional staff, which is largely doctors as well as dentists and midwives, are no longer connected to the hospital. The privileges of one of the credential staff are currently being suspended and there was one resignation. A third is being accommodated under the Ontario Human Rights Code.
“Overall, our professional staff are in compliance and we can continue to function very well at the hospital,” said Skot.
All staff, as well as the credentialed staff, have been required to follow both the hospital’s mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy and a provincial directive requiring unvaccinated staff to be tested twice per week.
As part of the 39 terminations at RVH, there were 16 unvaccinated employees who did not follow the provincial directive and have since been terminated.
Skot said the hospital’s mandatory vaccination policy was enforced through a step-by-step process, which included warning letters, education, leaves without pay, and last-chance offers.
“In the end, 23 were terminated for non-compliance with our policy,” said Skot. “The majority of these people were part-time or casual employees.
“Our first goal was to have no one leave the organization involuntarily," she added.
The process was completed on Oct. 31.
Skot said ongoing recruiting has more than made up for the loss of the workers through the vaccination policy.
In the past two months, RVH has recruited 56 registered and practical nurses, replacing the 16 that were terminated and adding another 40. Skot hails that as an achievement given the challenge the country’s health-care system and hospitals have had finding the staff they require.
RVH currently employs a total of 3,513 people — of those, 1,300 are nurses.
“It is a difficult time right now in terms of health human resources,” said Skot. “People are tired from the pandemic, there’s lots of change, so health human resources will continue to be a challenge for us. But at RVH we continue to be able to recruit nurses.
“We’re doing everything that we can to continue to meet the needs," she added, noting the safety of patients and staff remains a priority.