(Photo of a COVID ward courtesy of Erie Shores Healthcare)(Photo of a COVID ward courtesy of Erie Shores Healthcare)

Southwestern Ontario hospitals tell unvaccinated staff enough is enough

With COVID-19 case numbers on the rise, all five hospitals within the Erie St. Clair Local Health Integrated Network are telling all staff, volunteers, and contractors it's time to get double vaccinated.

Stricter vaccination policies are coming soon to Windsor Regional Hospital, Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare, Erie Shores Healthcare, the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance and Bluewater Health in Sarnia.

At Windsor Regional, CEO David Musyj told BlackburnNews.com it would be up to individual hospitals to set their own implementation date, but a deadline is coming. Those who don't have their shots by then will go on a two-week unpaid leave of absence.

"If they still during those two weeks don't get vaccinated or start the vaccination campaign, they'll be terminated," he said.

Musyj said about 94 per cent of staff at Windsor Regional are already doubled vaccinated, but there are holdouts, and he expects pushback from the remaining six per cent.

"Even when we implemented the first policy, I got a lot of pushback," admitted Musyj. "My email and phone blows up, and we try to address all of their issues -- I would imagine it'll happen even more so."

Musyj is under no illusion the fourth wave of the pandemic will be any easier on nurses and doctors at the hospital. Already, hospitalizations are going up, and the positivity rate suggests those numbers are unlikely to come down in the weeks to come. However, he insisted the hospital must walk the walk.

"We can't on one hand, tell the community how important it is to go get vaccinated, and on the other hand, as a health care organization, not adhere to that same statement," he explained.

On Thursday, there were 18 new cases in Chatham-Kent where eight people are currently in the hospital with the virus.

Sarnia-Lambton saw a spike two to three weeks ahead of other areas. At the time, it had the highest case rate in Ontario, but now, Windsor-Essex does. As of August 29, the active case rate was the highest was 119 per 100,000, and among the highest in Canada. The average provincial case rate for every 100,000 residents is 40.3.

The number of new cases in Windsor-Essex is also startling, at 101 for every 100,000 residents compared to 32.6 across Ontario.

In most of those cases, the vast majority are unvaccinated, reflecting a trend across the province.

Read More Local Stories