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Healthcare workers demonstrate against Ascension St. John vaccine mandate

Healthcare workers demonstrate against Ascension St. John vaccine mandate (Kinzer/KTUL){p}{/p}
Healthcare workers demonstrate against Ascension St. John vaccine mandate (Kinzer/KTUL)

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The sirens of the ambulances arriving at Ascension St. John's Friday had competition from the horns of motorists showing support for the demonstrators across the street from the hospital.

"I had to turn in my badge at 4:07 this afternoon and considered suspended as of in the morning," said Lisa Johnson. She's been a nurse at St. John's for 13 years.

"I applied for a religious exemption, I was denied. I appealed the religious exemption denial and was denied a second time. We were pretty much told that if we were not compliant by the end of our work shift today we would be suspended," she said.

"I saw myself retiring out of this hospital," said nurse Tricia Smith. She has been there 14 years. Her exemption was denied as well. Will she have a change of heart and get the shot?

"It's extremely hard for me to say at this point. It’s hard to justify going against my convictions for a job," she said.

And as for someone reading this story who's thinking, 'This is a person in healthcare, wouldn't they want to be immunized if you’re in a hospital with COVID around for your own protection for your patients protection?'

"We’ll, my answer to that would be that I could see that as true if the vaccines eradicated the disease, but it doesn’t eradicate the disease. It doesn’t keep the vaccinated from catching it and passing it around," said Johnson.

From the hospital; "We continue to put the safety of our associates and those we are privileged to serve at the forefront of everything we do. This is why we have required our associates to receive both the COVID-19 vaccine and the influenza vaccine."

"It's got to be surreal to stand on the corner across from the hospital with a sign," we asked Smith. "Yes, it is surreal especially when they are doing it in the name of patient safety when the things that they are doing to compensate for losing us are creating unsafe environments for our community," she said.

The shock of the healthcare workers softened a bit by word this evening that a court has temporarily blocked enforcement of St. John's mandate.

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"It would make me so happy for Ascension to have to reinstate us all and say we’re sorry because we didn’t do the right thing," said Johnson.

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