Goshen, IN – A hospital in Indiana has fired eight workers including three veteran nurses who refused mandatory flu shots.
IU Health Goshen Hospital created a new policy requiring it’s staff, affiliated physicians, volunteers, and vendors to get the flu shot back in September. The new policy was created to protect patients from the illness.
Melanie McDonald the hospitals spokeswoman told The Elkhart Truth that the new requirements came as a recommendation from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Medical Association, and other major health agencies. She said patients with a compromised immune system were more at risk for the getting and dying from the flu, and protecting patients was the hospital’s top priority.
“The flu has the highest death rate of any vaccine-preventable disease, and it would be irresponsible from our perspective for health care providers to ignore that,” she said.
One critical care nurse, Ethel Hoover, wore all black on her last day of work because she was in mourning. She had worked at the hospital almost 22 years. She told ABC News, “This is my body. I have a right to refuse the flu vaccine. For 21 years, I have religiously not taken the flu vaccine, and now you’re telling me that I believe in it.”
Another nurse, Joyce Gingerich, who worked in the oncology department but was fired from the hospital, told ABC News she understand the hospital’s position. However, getting a flu shot would have gone against her rebellious beliefs. Gingerich, who has worked at the hospital since 1987 said, “I knew that I could not compromise my personal belief system for a job. It was really sad to leave that job. In all my years of nursing, it was my favorite.”
The CDC recommends everyone over the age of six months to get a yearly flu shot. The CDC also reports that more than 15,100 flu cases have been reported since September 30 including 16 pediatric deaths. Indiana’s flu activity level is considered by, and the CDC announced flu season came a month earlier than expected in Indiana.