Gundersen nurses speaking out against mandatory staff vaccinations

Published: Oct. 14, 2021 at 5:43 PM CDT
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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU) - Gundersen Health System is requiring all staff to be vaccinated, saying it’s the best option to defend against COVID-19.

However, nurses such as David Anderson and Andrea Babinski are among those who disagree with being mandated to take the vaccine.

“We believe in individualized patient care and informed consent, we believe that your personal medical decisions should be made between you and your doctor,” Anderson said.

“We don’t believe that it should be a choice between a job you love and a vaccine that we, at this point in our life, have chosen not to get,” Babinski added.

Babinski and Anderson are both clear in saying they’re not anti-vaccine, but they’re against the new policy Gundersen is enacting.

It’s a policy that threatens to end the nine-year career of Anderson and the 12-year tenure of Babinski.

“They’ve sent us a letter that says, very clearly, that we will be put on unpaid leave on Nov. 1, and terminated on Nov. 8,” Babinski said. “We’ve attempted to reach out and see if there’s compromise or common ground, and we’ve been denied any kind of voice at the table.”

While it’s unknown exactly how many staff members may lose their jobs due to being unvaccinated, Anderson believes Gundersen can’t afford to lose anyone due to a lack of workers.

“We have routinely had to divert patients, not because we’re full, but because we don’t have enough staff,” Anderson explained. “We’ve had to close down beds, we’ve had to be on labor and delivery diversion, we’ve had to be on critical care diversion.”

Staff members against the mandate are asking Gundersen to allow all vaccine exemptions in order to preserve staffing.

Gundersen has made no indication on changing its policy, saying in part in a statement:

“We have a mission to ensure health, safety, and well-being for everyone in our care. The system vaccine requirement supports this mission, and we stand by it. We must use every option to end the pandemic, protect everyone, and deliver quality care to those we serve.”

A protest from those against the vaccine policy is scheduled for Oct. 21 from 4-6 PM.

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