JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Dozens of unvaccinated Mountain House VA well being care employees lined a busy avenue close to the hospital protesting the federal vaccine mandate.
Employees calling themselves “Federal Employees for Freedom,” their households and supporters met on the Market Avenue aspect of Kiwanis Park Friday afternoon calling on Veterans Affairs to allow them to maintain their jobs.
The VA was the primary main federal company to announce a vaccine mandate in July 2021. At the moment, they gave employees eight weeks to get absolutely vaccinated.
Now, employees usually are not certain what their future standing on the VA appears to be like like.
“When the onerous questions come up, we don’t get clear, concise solutions as a result of it’s very unknown on what’s to come back,” mentioned Kara Clark, a respiratory therapist at Mountain House.
The unvaccinated employees all utilized for non secular exemptions to the vaccine, however some say they’ve obtained what’s known as an lodging.
Which means they have been moved right into a scientific position. Daniel McRae, a nurse, mentioned that’s an ongoing concern for skilled nurses like himself.
“We can’t be moderately accommodated in our present positions due to our non secular exemption. We’re all in worry for our jobs,” McRae mentioned.
Tennessee Congresswoman Diana Harshbarger known as on VA Secretary Denis McDonough to reverse the mandate in a letter earlier this month saying, “I’ve grave issues about how this mandate will affect veterans’ care and have an effect on VA staff with deeply held non secular or medical exemptions to the COVID-19 vaccine.”
Tiffany Hartman, a nurse, expressed concern for sufferers if employees are requested to depart their positions or lose their jobs.
“We’re afraid that that’s going to have an effect on veterans’ care. As a result of we’re going to lose suppliers. We’re going to lose nursing workers,” Hartman mentioned. “All types of healthcare professionals are going to be pressured to go to different jobs exterior of the VA well being system.”
Hartman mentioned the VA’s response to the unvaccinated has diverse from employee to employee.
“A few of us have simply been requested to check weekly. A few of us they haven’t addressed in any respect,” Hartman mentioned. “The dearth of transparency may be very regarding and that’s why all of us are in worry of shedding our jobs that we love a lot.”
Hartman mentioned unvaccinated employees nonetheless put on PPE like facemasks contained in the hospital, and she or he would proceed doing that to maintain her job.
The uncertainty has taken a toll on some, however employees like Clark simply need to proceed their work.
“My nervousness has been by the roof. I’ve needed to see a counselor,” Clark mentioned. “I’m simply right here to do my job and I need to do my job.”
Information Channel 11 reached out to Mountain House VA for info on their variety of unvaccinated employees and their future employment standing, however didn’t hear again.