40 KHSC employees remain on unpaid indefinite leave

Hotel Dieu Hospital, a Kingston Health Sciences Centre site in downtown Kingston. Photo by Roya Dee.

Over six weeks after 136 Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC) employees were placed on unpaid leave after refusing to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination, just under 30 per cent of those employees remain on unpaid leave.

Over 50 of the employees initially placed on leave on Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021 – the day after the deadline for KHSC employees to provide proof of their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine – were returned to work having shown proof of vaccination by Monday, Sept. 27, 2021. By Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021, 50 employees had been moved from unpaid leave to indefinite unpaid leave. KHSC employees then had two weeks before the deadline to provide proof of having received a second COVID-19 vaccine dose.

“As part of KHSC’s COVID-19 immunization policy, all KHSC staff, physicians and learners were required to provide proof of having received a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, or a documented medical reason for not being vaccinated by Friday, October 22,” the academic hospital, consisting of both the Kingston General Hospital (KGH) site and the Hotel Dieu Hospital (HDH) site, said as of Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021.

According to KHSC, 10 of those final 50 employees who had still not shown their proof of vaccination in the first week of October have now done so.

“A total of 40 employees remain in non-compliance with the policy and remain on unpaid administrative leave indefinitely. KHSC currently employs more than 5,900 staff across our two hospital sites, the Cancer Centre of Southeastern Ontario, and various satellite offices across the region,” they said in an email.

Those 40 employees account for less than 0.7 per cent of all KHSC employees.

KHSC pointed to its vaccination policy as a means to an end of the pandemic, given the first-hand healthcare work that is done at its sites.

“As an organization, we strongly believe that vaccination is the top preventive strategy against COVID-19 in conjunction with screening, wearing personal protective equipment such as masks, and physical distancing,” the organization said. “As health-care providers, we have an ethical and professional obligation to take all necessary steps to keep our patients, families and each other safe from COVID-19.”

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