WDMH rolls out mandatory vaccination ultimatum

WINCHESTER — The three percent of employees at Winchester District Memorial Hospital (WDMH) not vaccinated have a decision to make. They have until Sept. 7 to get their first shot and Oct. 15 their second — or be placed on an unpaid leave of absence.

Currently, 100% percent of medical staff, 97% of WDMH employees, and 100% of WDMH volunteers have been fully vaccinated with two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

WDMH announced the ultimatum this week,  saying all employees, physicians, volunteers, learners, contractors, and new hires must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The move comes after an August provincial directive establishing Sept. 7 as the latest possible date to establish hospital staff vaccination policies, including proof of “full vaccination” for workers starting that day.

WDMH describes it as an important step to ensure the safety of everyone in the hospital environment and says it is taking a “phased approach” that will allow unvaccinated staff to get their second jab as late as Oct. 15.

“As a hospital, we have a duty and commitment to protect the health and safety of our staff, patients, and visitors,” notes CEO Cholly Boland. “Getting vaccinated remains the most effective way to do this.”

As of September 7th, anyone who is unvaccinated (or has not reported their vaccination status) will be placed on an unpaid Leave of Absence.  WDMH is currently finalizing its vaccination policy (including medical exemptions) in line with the provincial directive.

“We want to thank the WDMH team for its continued dedication,” added Boland. “Everyone has worked tirelessly to protect our communities throughout the pandemic.  We also want to thank our local communities for their ongoing support.”

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