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Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccination Policy implementation outcomes at London Health Sciences Centre

STATEMENT/LETTER TO OUR COMMUNITY

For Immediate Release:
October 22, 20201

Dear fellow Londoners,

On the final day of August, I had shared with you that we would be standing with our fellow health-care organizations across Ontario and introduced a new policy requiring all staff and physicians to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 by October 22. In the time since then, we have been working closely with our people to promote awareness of the policy and the benefits of vaccination, ensure the availability of information needed to make an informed personal choice, and to make accessing vaccination as convenient as possible through onsite clinics. Today, with the vaccination requirement now in effect, we are sharing the outcomes associated with this policy.

We are pleased to report that as of yesterday evening, 98.2% of staff and 99.8% of physicians and residents are fully vaccinated. Adding to this, there are 81 staff who are in the process of becoming fully vaccinated and who will resume active duties once they do so. All together, this will bring our final overall fully vaccinated rate to 99.2%, which is a tremendous accomplishment; we are grateful to the vast majority of our team members who made the decision to become fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus, as well as to those who are committed to continuing on the path to full immunization.

It was always our hope in instituting this policy we would reach a 100 per cent vaccination rate without the loss of anyone working within our walls; while we came very close, we are expressing some disappointment that this goal was not fully met. At this time, and over the course of the next few days, we will be parting ways with 84 employees (43 in clinical and 41 in non-clinical roles) and in accordance with the existing by-law process, suspending the privileges of fewer than five physicians. 

While the combined total of people exiting the organization represents less than one per cent of our overall staff and physician workforce, we do appreciate that behind each number is a person and that human aspect makes today particularly difficult for all involved. We respect the choices people have made as individuals, and are hopeful that those who have been affected would consider working with us again in the future should they change their decision on vaccination.

From an operational perspective, these departures will have minimal impact as they are spread out across the organization, and across job types and status involving a mix of full time (47), part time (32), casual (2), and job share roles (3). Additionally, we have completed extensive workforce planning down to the unit-level over the last 19 months to ensure our ability to maintain essential service continuity and are well-practiced to be nimble in our efforts to adjust and respond to the ongoing challenges of this public health emergency and emerging national human health resource crisis. Recruitment for the resultant vacancies is already well underway.

In August I made a promise to keep all those who come to us safe in the face of the pandemic. This is because safety has always been the cornerstone of our decision-making process at LHSC, which at times can necessitate tough operational choices. On this matter, the research is clear. Vaccination adds another layer of protection against COVID-19, reducing both the risk of spread and the likeliness of severe illness or death if infected. Mandatory vaccination is the right thing to do for our patients, our people, and our community. This difficult decision is a critical part of our dedicated efforts to do everything we can to protect patients and the teams who care for them from the spread of this virus. And, as we had previously assured, all patients coming to LHSC can now take comfort in the certain knowledge that their care team has been fully vaccinated. 

Warmest best,

Dr. Jackie Schleifer Taylor
Interim President and CEO