Report by Paula Antolini, September 16, 2021, 1:19PM EDT
On October 1, 2021 possibly as many as 30% of health care workers in Nuvance Health / Danbury Hospital will walk off the job or be suspended without pay if they refuse to get the mandatory COVID-19 vaccine, according to health care workers who have spoken to the Bethel Advocate.
Workers are quitting or being suspended because they refuse to comply with the mandatory vaccine requirement with no medical or religious exemptions taken into consideration. According to the workers who spoke with the Bethel Advocate, they will be suspended without pay on October 1st and then fired October 15th if they do not comply. “Religious Accommodation Requests” have been thus far “denied.”
The exact details are unclear. If “religious accommodation requests” remain denied by September 22, 2021, and if workers indicate they “plan to be vaccinated” by Oct. 1st, they will “remain employed” but be placed on “an unpaid leave of absence” and given “reasonable time to comply during that period.”
In a letter issued to employees by Nuvance Health (Danbury Hospital is part of part of Nuvance Health, a network of seven hospitals and numerous outpatient facilities in the Hudson Valley and Western Connecticut), Nuvance Health stated that, “If your religious accommodation request remains denied and you do not intend to be vaccinated or fail to notify us of the same by Oct. 1st then Nuvance Health with proceed with separating you from employment.”
Nuvance Health indicated they will re-review the employees’ “religious accommodation requests” and let them know their decision the following week. Nuvance warned that it is important that the employee knows the “denial may remain.”
Religious exemption requests have already been denied by Nuvance because they state, “It would impose and undue hardship as it would require us to violate New York law,” one letter reads. However, due to new developments in the NY vaccine law, that could possibly also happen later in Connecticut too, they will “re-review the religious accommodation requests” however, that does not mean it will be approved according to the letters that employees received. (View “NYC’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate on hold until September 22” from Sept. 15th.)
Health care workers are hesitant to come forward and speak on the record for fear of retaliation. Many have stated they have dedicated their lives to health care but are adamant about refusing the vaccine and will not change their stance even if threatened with termination.
Some workers have already turned in their resignations. A number of these workers have worked at Danbury Hospital or in the health care field for 10 or more years. In some cases, couples have stated their willingness to leave due to the vaccine mandate despite the fact it would leave them with no income.
Many employees have stated that Danbury Hospital is “already understaffed,” so how a walkout will affect the medical safety of the citizens in our area is unclear.
Nuvance Health includes seven community hospitals that offer 24/7 emergency services, including comprehensive care and expertise for cancer, heart and vascular conditions, neurosciences and more. Find them in:
Nuvance Health officials have not responded to numerous attempts by the Bethel Advocate for comment.
*About Nuvance Health: In 2019, Health Quest and Western Connecticut Health Network came together with a collective future vision and formed a new organization–Nuvance Health, according to the Nuvance Health website.