A group of workers at Houston Methodist hospital have been suspended for refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19, and now face potential termination.
“We are nearly 100% compliant with our COVID-19 vaccine mandate,” Houston Methodist CEO Marc Boom said in an email to staff on Tuesday, as reported by USA Today. “Houston Methodist is officially the first hospital system in the country to achieve this goal for the benefit of its patients.”
Boom said that out of the 178 workers who are currently suspended for not being fully vaccinated, 27 of them have gotten the first dose and he hopes that they get the final dose as well.
“I wish the number could be zero, but unfortunately, a small number of individuals have decided not to put their patients first,” Boom said.
Over 100 employees filed a lawsuit over the hospital’s requirement that they get the vaccine.
The group of workers to be suspended are not the only people who have not been vaccinated. USA Today reported that an “additional 285 employees received a medical or religious exemption, and 332 were granted deferrals for pregnancy and other reasons, Boom said.”
On Monday, the hospital released a statement, per KHOU:
Today is the deadline for Houston Methodist employees to comply with the mandatory COVID-19 vaccine policy. We are proud to report that almost 100 percent of our 26,000 employees have complied, making the right decision to fulfill their sacred obligation to protect our patients. Unfortunately, a few employees have not met the vaccine requirements and are inviting other employees to join them as they end their shifts today. We fully support the right of our employees to peacefully gather on their own time, but it is unacceptable to even suggest they abandon their patients to participate in this activity. We have faith that our employees will continue putting our patients first. It is unfortunate that today’s milestone of Houston Methodist becoming the safest hospital system in the country is being overshadowed by a few disgruntled employees.
“As the first hospital system to mandate COVID-19 vaccines we were prepared for this,” Boom said. “The criticism is sometimes the price we pay for leading medicine.”
“I feel betrayed a little bit,” Amanda Rivera, who is not part of the lawsuit, told KHOU-TV as she departed from the building on Monday. “I worked in the ER. It was crazy during the pandemic. We were short-staffed. The hospital was over capacity with patients. It was just a lot. Now for them to come and do this is like a slap in the face.”
Kara Shepherd is a labor and delivery nurse who is involved in the lawsuit. Shepherd said, “All last year, through the COVID pandemic, we came to work and did our jobs. We did what we were asked. This year, we’re basically told we’re disposable.”
As The Daily Wire previously reported, “Houston Methodist Hospital, which manages eight hospitals, gave employees until June 7 to get the vaccine or they could be suspended or fired, the lawsuit claims. So 117 unvaccinated employees banded together and filed suit.”
“The lawsuit noted that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not fully approved the vaccines, instead issuing only emergency use authorization. They allege that the hospital is ‘illegally requiring its employees to be injected with an experimental vaccine as a condition of employment,’” The Daily Wire noted.
The complaint also references the Nuremberg Code, which “bans forced medical experimentations, again in effect arguing that the vaccine is experimental and potentially unsafe,” Fox News reported.
Attorney Jared Woodfill, who filed the suit, said the hospital is simply trying to earn profits. “To promote its business and increase profits at the expense of other health care providers and their employees’ health, Defendants advertise to the public that they ‘require all employees and employed physicians to get a COVID-19 vaccine.’ More clearly, Defendants’ employees are being forced to serve as human ‘guinea pigs’ to increase Defendants’ profits,” Woodfill told ABC News.
Last week, however, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) said businesses can require that their employees be vaccinated against COVID-19 without breaking federal law, as reported by The Daily Wire.
Among other items included in the updated guidance released on Friday, The Daily Wire noted that “the EEOC said employers must make ‘reasonable accommodations’ for employees who don’t get vaccinated because of religious beliefs, pregnancy, or a disability. The agency also said that other federal laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and state and local laws may play a factor in what businesses can do.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. … Millions of people in the United States have received COVID-19 vaccines under the most intense safety monitoring in U.S. history. … CDC recommends you get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you can.