Ascension St. Vincent’s is changing its COVID-19 vaccine policy, allowing unvaccinated employees, who were suspended, to return to work.
The change comes after Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a law restricting vaccine mandates. Ascension confirmed the new change in policy to News4Jax Saturday morning.
The previous policy stated that all workers had to be vaccinated by Nov. 12. In October, dozens of demonstrators gathered outside Ascension St. Vincent’s in Clay County to protest the vaccine mandate for employees.
Florida hospitals are now in a conflict between facing potential hefty state fines or possibly losing billions in Medicaid funding by not complying with federal vaccine mandates.
St. Vincent’s acknowledged the conflict between the state and federal laws in a Nov. 19 memo to associates from Ascension Florida and Gulf Coast president and CEO Tom VanOsdol.
“In order to be compliant with federal and state laws, Ascension Florida will be rescinding the suspensions of associates who were suspended pending their compliance with the Ascension Florida vaccine policy,” the memo read. “All associates will be required to continue to comply with our infection control protocols.”
According to the memo, the suspensions might be reinstated “once we have clarity” about applying both the state law and federal mandate.
News4Jax reached out to other local hospital systems to ask if they would also be adjusting their vaccine policies. Below are the responses we have received:
A spokesperson said the hospital does not have a vaccine “mandate.”
“If people aren’t vaccinated we’ve asked them to wear N95 masks on campus instead of regular surgical masks. We’re giving people the option of a vaccine by January or they need to file for an exemption either medical (or) religious,” the spokesperson said.
A spokesperson confirmed workers are still required to be vaccinated by Dec. 3 unless they acquire a medical or religious exemption. He released the following statement:
“Making COVID-19 vaccination a requirement to work at Mayo Clinic will help ensure we have a healthy workforce and that Mayo Clinic is a safe place to receive care — just as our patients expect. The Mayo Clinic enterprise staff vaccination rate for COVID-19 is at 90%. In consideration of the safety of our patients, staff, visitors and communities, Mayo Clinic transitioned to the next phase of its COVID-19 vaccination program, with vaccination required to continue to work at Mayo Clinic. A review process will be available for staff to seek medical or religious exemptions to vaccination.
All Mayo Clinic staff members who are not vaccinated or partially vaccinated will be required to complete vaccination for COVID-19 or receive approval for a medical or religious exemption by Dec. 3, 2021. Staff requesting medical or religious exemptions must have submitted the completed request form by Nov. 8, 2021. Staff who are not vaccinated, or who have not received an approved medical or religious exemption by Dec. 3, 2021 will be given a final written warning. Anyone who is still not in compliance with the required COVID-19 vaccination program by Jan. 3, 2022, will be not be able to continue employment.”
We have not yet heard back from Baptist Health hospital. The original deadline for Baptist Health employees to be fully vaccinated was Nov. 15.