North Carolina’s Novant Health fired 175 workers for failing to comply with the system’s mandatory vaccine policy, it announced Monday.
In a statement in July, Novant Health bragged of being “among the first to implement this program alongside other healthcare systems in the region who agree that a mandatory vaccine program is in the best interest of public health and a necessary step to ensure the safety of our patients, team members and communities.”
“We are passionate about health equity and know that vaccinating all of our team members, in addition to providing access to COVID-19 vaccines to those in historically marginalized communities, will help us end the pandemic for all,” the statement continued.
The move triggered protests drawing healthcare workers who rejected the mandate.
“It’s a right. People died for our rights. It’s not right to take that freedom away from us, we are people too,” one nurse, Cheryl Morneau, told WBTV at the time.
“We sacrificed on the frontlines for over a year. Why don’t we have the same rights as everyone else and as our patients do?” she asked.
As of last week, Novant Health suspended 375 employees for failing to get vaccinated. As of Monday, 175 were fired for continuing to refuse to do so.
However, Novant Health spokeswoman Megan Rivers said that over 99 percent of the hospital system’s workers — an estimated 35,000 — have complied with the mandate:
Update: Last week, nearly 200 additional team members came into compliance with vaccine mandate, increasing that rate across @NovantHealth to over 99%.
— Megan Rivers (@MeganMRivers) September 27, 2021
Novant Health has not expressed regret over its mandate, releasing a statement reiterating it stands by the original decision to mandate vaccines.
“We stand by our decision to make the vaccine mandatory as we have a responsibility to protect our patients, visitors and team members, regardless of where they are in our health system,” Novant Health said in a statement.
“We couldn’t be prouder of our team members who made the choice to receive the covid-19 vaccine and remain part of our team at Novant Health,” it added.
MSN identified the hospital system’s mass firings as one of the “largest of its kind to date”:
More than 150 health-care workers who did not comply with a vaccine mandate at Houston Methodist — one of the first health systems to require the coronavirus shots — were fired or resigned in June after a federal judge upheld the policy. ChristianaCare, a Delaware health system, announced this week that 150 employees were fired for not adhering to its vaccine mandate.
The news comes as New York hospital workers across the state face a similar fate, as the deadline to receive the first shot arrived on Monday.
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