By Zachary Stieber
Approximately 400 healthcare workers at one of Michigan’s largest hospital systems have resigned over the system’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
The roughly 33,000 workers at Henry Ford Health System, which includes five hospitals, were required to get a COVID-19 vaccine by Sept. 10. Those who didn’t receive an exemption or comply with the mandate were given until Oct. 1 to comply or face repercussions.
Some 93 percent of workers got at least one shot of a vaccine and another 6 percent received a religious or medical exemption, Bob Riney, president of healthcare operations and chief operating officer for the system, told reporters in a briefing Wednesday. Less than 1 percent, or about 400 workers, quit.
“No one has been fired, and no one will be fired. Anyone who leaves because of the vaccine requirement is being classified as a voluntary resignation,” Riney said.
Workers who quit are welcome to re-apply for a job should they get vaccinated, he added.
At least one of the 64 Henry Ford employees who last month sued over the system’s mandate, alleging it violated their constitutional rights, was denied a religious exemption and was terminated, Kyle Von Allmen, a lawyer representing the group, told The Epoch Times via email.
“Despite the health system claim that these employees are ‘quitting’, they were terminated,” he wrote.
The system rejected about 250 religious exemption requests and a handful of medical exemption requests, officials said. They determined the requests did not meet the criteria they set for granting such exemptions by looking at the workers’ “past behavior” and beliefs, according to Riney.
COVID-19 vaccine mandates have been imposed at healthcare systems across the nation in recent months and President Joe Biden’s administration is putting together a mandate for any private business with 100 or more employees that will center on forcing workers who don’t get a vaccine to submit to weekly COVID-19 testing.
The mandates are leading to staffing shortages at many facilities. The shortages led to two large Michigan systems, including Henry Ford, cutting beds last month.
Officials at the system said they’ve started hiring new workers to offset the losses. They’re recruiting internationally.
“All things considered, we’re losing a very small segment of our workforce,” Riney said.
Henry Ford’s mandate does not contain a carve-out for workers who are able to prove they contracted COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus. Several health systems in Michigan do let workers who can prove they have natural immunity opt out from mandates, including Spectrum Health.