Stand up for your medical freedom
By Guest Columnist Nancy Churchill
On August 9, Governor Jay Inslee issued a mandate requiring that certain employees must receive a COVID-19 vaccination in order to work in certain jobs. Employees who do not comply will be fired. You can find Inslee’s proclamation at tinyurl.com/6cpjt8uz.
This vaccination mandate puts our small rural hospitals and long-term care facilities at great risk. The health care administrators of these rural medical facilities are heroes who have worked long and hard to provide us with top-quality service during these difficult and uncertain times. They have successfully navigated funding challenges, coped with safety requirements that sometimes changed daily and continued to provide care. They’ve figured out how to obtain and distribute the medicines, and developed procedures to keep their staff and patients safe. Now, these facilities are being required to fire loyal employees at a time when they need to be fully staffed— right before the next winter cold and flu season. In Ferry County, about 30% of the staff have chosen not to vaccinate. Some of the staff have already had COVID, and are now immune. Some of them are young and healthy, and not part of the high risk population. The remainder have medical or religious reasons for not taking the vaccination.
Our heroic health care staff risked their own health and safety to make sure we received the care we needed. Our local hospital has now notified staff they will be terminated for not following hospital policy if they don’t comply with the governor’s mandate. These health care heroes won’t even qualify for unemployment. Their livelihoods and family security are now in jeopardy.
The governor’s proclamation recognizes the following legal exemptions in section (2): The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), the Washington Law Against Discrimination (WLAD), or “any other applicable law to a disability-related reasonable accommodation or a sincerely held religious belief accommodation to the requirements of this order.” The governor’s order further states that the health care facility does not have to provide religious or ADA accommodation if doing so would cause the facility “undue hardship.” However, these staff members have safely served the facility without problems throughout the pandemic. How would allowing a documented exemption cause hardship? These loyal staff members have not caused a super spreader event, or contributed to an illness in a patient. They’ve saved lives, not endangered them.
Here’s a bigger danger that affects every small rural community. We hear our hospitals are full to overflowing. However, I’ve been told the problem is actually caused by staffing shortages. There are simply not enough qualified healthcare workers! Why would the governor deepen the existing health care crisis by making the shortage of health care workers even worse?
It’s time for each of us to stand up for our civil liberties if we are affected by this mandate. Health care workers, state employees and educators must contact their human resources departments right away and request the forms they will need to apply for an ADA or religious exemption. Build alliances with others within your organization who are unwilling to get the vaccination. Work together to demand that your disability or sincerely held religious belief is protected by your employer! I know that our hospital administration doesn’t want to lose a single valuable employee… they cannot afford to lose 30% of the staff! That would cripple our health care system.
It’s time to stand up for your medical freedom! Be prepared to leave your job and take legal action if necessary.
Don’t allow yourself to be bullied into doing something you don’t want to do. Your health is your primary responsibility. Your family and our community would be devastated if you were killed or injured as a result of being coerced. Your community supports your right to make your own health care decision. We’re so grateful for our dedicated health care heroes!
Nancy Churchill is the state committeewoman for the Ferry County Republican Party. She may be reached at DangerousRhetoric@pm.me. The opinions expressed in Dangerous Rhetoric are her own.