Will hospital employees leave as COVID-19 vaccine mandates start?

COVID-19 Vaccine

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Vaccine mandates for hospital employees have started to take effect across the state, answering the much-anticipated question of whether health care workers will leave over the requirement.

Among the first hospitals to implement the mandate, Henry Ford Health System in Detroit and Trinity Health, Mercy Health’s parent company, have reported less than 1% of its workforce has left because of the vaccine requirement.

On Sept. 21, Trinity Health implemented its COVID-19 vaccine mandate for its staff.

“Among our roughly 24,000 colleagues across Trinity Health Michigan, 80 elected to resign because of the vaccine requirement,” Trinity Health spokesperson Erin Patrick said. “No other colleagues have been dismissed at this time.”

Trinity Health reports 94% of its staff has been vaccinated. However, they were unable to share the percentage of employees that have received or requested medical or religious exemptions at this time.

“There are two committees set up – one for medical exemptions and one for religious exemptions – that are represented by senior leaders from human resources, clinical services and mission integration,” Patrick said. “They review the requests.”

Henry Ford was the first health system in the state to announce a vaccine mandate for its employees. The requirement took effect Oct. 1.

“I’m both elated and extremely proud to say that as of today, more than 99% of our Henry Ford Health System family is compliant with our vaccination policy,” Bob Riney, president of health care operations and COO for Henry Ford Health System, said during a media briefing Tuesday.

He said more than 30,000 of its 33,000 employees are fully vaccinated. Approximately 1,900 Henry Ford employees have received exemptions, which accounts for roughly 6% of its overall workforce. Most of the exemptions were approved for religious reasons.

Riney said they are still working to resolve a few cases of noncompliant employees, so their numbers will change.

About 400 Henry Ford employees have left over the mandate, accounting for less than 1% of its workforce.

“To be clear… no one has been fired and no one will be fired,” Riney said. “Anyone who leaves because of the vaccine requirement is being classified as a voluntary resignation. This means should they have a change of heart down the road and become vaccinated, they can once again apply for jobs within Henry Ford.”

Riney said 30 people have already come back to them, seeking reemployment after leaving because of the mandate.

Spectrum Health will implement its vaccine mandate for employees on Oct. 18.

“To date, approximately 96% of Spectrum Health’s workforce is in compliance or on track to be compliant with our vaccination requirement by the deadline,” Spectrum Health said in a statement to News 8.

Bronson Healthcare will implement its COVID-19 vaccine requirement for employees Dec. 1. University of Michigan Health-West will implement its policy Nov. 1.

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