Kitchener-Waterloo

Staff at Waterloo region's hospitals must get vaccinated or be put on unpaid leave

Effective Oct. 12, staff, physicians, students, volunteers and contractors working at and with hospitals in Waterloo region will be required to be fully vaccinated.

Effective Oct. 12, staff, physicians, students, volunteers and contractors must have both COVID-19 shots

Waterloo region hospitals say staff who do not meet the vaccination mandate will be placed on leave without pay and given a short window into early November to meet the policy. (CBC)

Effective Oct. 12, staff, physicians, students, volunteers and contractors working at and with hospitals in Waterloo region will be required to be fully vaccinated. 

The new mandate is a joint initiative between Cambridge Memorial Hospital, Grand River Hospital, Groves Memorial Community Hospital, Guelph General Hospital, Homewood Health Centre, North Wellington Health Care Alliance and St. Mary's General Hospital, as part of new vaccination policies implemented locally.

In a news release Wednesday, the hospitals said staff who do not meet this mandate will be placed on leave without pay and given a short window into early November to meet the policy. 

"Protecting the health and safety of our patients and staff has always been our priority," said Lee Fairclough, president, St. Mary's General Hospital and hospital lead for COVID-19 response. 

"Vaccines are an important tool in the COVID fight and in our response to the highly transmissible delta variant — something that we have witnessed the impact of first hand. We are pleased that vaccination rates are high within our hospitals and community, and are very grateful to everyone who has chosen to become fully vaccinated. It is our responsibility to implement every safety measure possible to protect our patients and teams."

Patient and staff safety are priorities

Directive 6, issued by Ontario's chief medical officer of health, mandates that high-risk settings, such as hospitals, must have COVID-19 vaccination policies in place by Sept. 7.

The new policies state that existing staff and volunteers who are unvaccinated will be required to undergo a mandatory education session along with twice-weekly antigen testing submitting negative test results prior to coming onsite. 

"Our response throughout the pandemic has been a collaborative approach across our community as we continue to protect our patients and our staff," said Patrick Gaskin, president and CEO, Cambridge Memorial Hospital. "Our new joint vaccination policies are simply one more important step forward that we are taking to achieve this, together."

Directive 6, issued by Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, mandates that high-risk settings, such as hospitals, must have COVID-19 vaccination policies in place by Sept. 7. (Maeve Doyle/CBC)

Marianne Walker, president and chief executive officer of Guelph General Hospital, said patient and staff safety are priorities for the hospital.

"We want to do everything possible to protect our patients, our staff and the health of the community, and we know that vaccines are critical in reducing the spread of the virus," Walker said. 

Ron Gagnon, president and chief executive officer of Grand River Hospital, said the COVID-19 vaccine is a vital measure of protection, particularly as more services continue to open up, and community spread continues to increase.

"As a health-care organization, we have a responsibility to safeguard and protect the health and wellness of those we work with, and those we care for," Gagnon said. 

"This policy, which we are implementing with our partners, will help to support this mandate and keep our community safe."

31 new cases of COVID-19

The Region of Waterloo Public Health reported 31 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday.

There are currently 165 active cases, an increase of 11 over the previous day's total.

Today's cases include one variant of concern for a total of 5,061 variant-of-concern cases throughout the pandemic.

No new deaths were reported Wednesday. The death toll over the course of the pandemic remains at 289.

There are seven people with COVID-19 in the region's three hospitals. Five people are in the intensive-care unit (ICU). People in the ICU may not be infectious with COVID-19 any longer, but do still require specialized care.

There are six active outbreaks in the region as follows:

  • One at a hospitality company with two cases.

  • One at a hair salon with two cases. 

  • One at Conestoga Lodge retirement home with eight cases: one in a staff member, seven in non-staff members.

  • One at an independent living centre with one case.

  • Two at congregate settings with three cases.

The new cases bring the Waterloo Region COVID-19 totals to 18,988 confirmed cases, 18,530 of which have been marked as resolved.

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