Over 50 KHSC staff placed on unpaid, indefinite leave

Hotel Dieu Hospital, a Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC) site. Photo by Lucas Mulder.

After enforcing its COVID-19 vaccination policy resulted in 136 staff members placed on unpaid leave from Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC), 59 of those individuals have now been placed on an indefinite unpaid leave.

KHSC originally placed the staff members who would not provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a valid exemption on two weeks unpaid leave on Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021. During those two weeks, 77 of those staff members have shown proof of vaccination or a valid exemption, with over 50 staff members having done so within a week. Those 77 staff members “will be able to return to work following a negative COVID antigen test,” KHSC said on Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021.

“As we have reached the end of the two-week unpaid leave for staff who are in non-compliance with KHSC’s mandatory vaccination policy, any individual who has not produced proof of vaccination or a valid exemption has been placed on an indefinite unpaid leave while we work to determine next steps,” said the academic hospital consisting of both the Kingston General Hospital (KGH) site and the Hotel Dieu Hospital (HDH) site.

“KHSC remains committed to enforcing our mandatory vaccine policy. We 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. 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.”

While KHSC was unable to say exactly what positions those 59 employees held, they did say the employees come from a mix of patient care roles (such as nurses and allied health, but not physicians) and non-patient care roles (such as administration or cleaning services).

According to KHSC, as of Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021, 97 per cent of the more than 5,900 staff at their sites have received two doses of COVID-19 vaccine, and two per cent have received one dose. That brings the rate of fully or partially vaccinated staff to 99 per cent, they said.

“Any partially vaccinated staff (one dose) have until October 22 to receive their second dose. Up until Oct. 22, partially vaccinated staff will need to submit negative COVID antigen tests on a weekly basis,” KHSC said.

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