Eighty Hadassah Hospital Workers Furloughed for Refusing COVID Vaccine

Ido Efrati
Ido Efrati
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An Israeli technician is reflected in a surface as she works at Healthcare Maintenance Organisation (HMO)  Maccabi's coronavirus disease (COVID-19) public laboratory.
An Israeli technician is reflected in a surface as she works at Healthcare Maintenance Organisation (HMO) Maccabi's coronavirus disease (COVID-19) public laboratory.Credit: AMMAR AWAD/ REUTERS
Ido Efrati
Ido Efrati

Eighty employees of Israel’s Hadassah Medical Organization, including doctors, nurses and administrative workers, were recently put on unpaid leave because they haven’t been vaccinated.

The organization said the workers hadn’t received permission not to be vaccinated from its exceptions committee, and no alternative jobs could be found for them at either of its two Jerusalem hospitals.

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Hadassah, which employs around 6,500 people, said the vaccination rate among its staff is 93 percent, claiming it’s a higher rate than any other hospital in Israel. This includes a rate of 95 percent for doctors and 93 percent for nurses.

It also said that one nurse, who refused to be vaccinated, was diagnosed with coronavirus Sunday night, and as a result, all her patients – who are children – had to be quarantined.

Hadassah’s director general, Prof. Zeev Rotstein, made it clear to all employees when the vaccination campaign began that there would be zero tolerance for staffers who refused to get vaccinated. In early January, two weeks after the campaign began, he said that unvaccinated workers wouldn’t be allowed to come to work during the lockdown and the lost days would be deducted from their vacation days.

“Due to fear of the spread of the British mutation and an increase in the number of (coronavirus) patients among the staff, and out of concern for patients and workers, we’ve decided that only workers who have been vaccinated, recovered or are participating in a trial of the Israeli vaccine will be able to come to work,” he wrote back then in a letter to all workers.

At the time, more than 1,000 employees still hadn’t been vaccinated, and the letter sparked an angry response from workers. Rotstein later clarified that only nonessential personnel would be barred from coming.

Last week, Rotstein announced that as of this Sunday, he would bar all unvaccinated workers from contact with patients unless they had an approved medical reason for not being vaccinated. He also said the hospitals would consider moving unvaccinated workers into jobs that didn’t involve contact with the public or putting them on unpaid leave, and would even reconsider whether they should remain employed at Hadassah.

“The administration is obliged to inform each and every one of you that the administration can’t provide the unvaccinated public with a working environment that’s protected against the coronavirus,” he wrote. Moreover, he added, Hadassah “will not provide legal defense or insurance coverage for future lawsuits against a staffer who, by his decision not to be vaccinated, caused direct or indirect harm to anyone.”

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