Louisiana’s largest health system has been forced by a state appeals court ruling that it must refrain from firing or disciplining employees who refuse a COVID-19 vaccine mandate while the legality of the decision is being challenged.
The ruling by the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeal in Shreveport came on Thursday ahead of the healthcare provider’s Friday deadline.
The group of 20 employees involved in the lawsuit would have otherwise been released following the vaccine mandate going into effect. The mandate applied to Ochsner Health’s 32,000 employees unless a worker received an approved exemption.
“To get a temporary restraining order, you must convince the court when you file something that you have a substantial likelihood of success,” attorneys Jimmy Faircloth told nola.com, a New Orleans newspaper website.
“This very important issue is a resounding wake-up call to all the employers in the state that have been hoodwinked into believing that you can do this.”
Others believe the ruling only postpones what will soon be required. Health care providers nationwide are being required to enforce COVID-19 vaccine mandates as the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the single largest payer of health care in the United States, has said it will require the vaccine for all employees of hospitals that accept payments from Medicare or Medicaid.
While the vaccine mandate may soon be a requirement for government payments for services, others hope a better solution will emerge regarding medical and religious exemptions.
Besides religious reasons, some, like Lauren Gioia, an operating room nurse at NorthShore’s Highland Park Hospital in Illinois, also doesn’t think there are enough studies on the long-term effects for her to trust the safety of COVID-19 vaccines. She said she has spent at least 200 hours reading medical studies and watching expert videos to educate herself on the vaccine.
Gioia also has firsthand knowledge about its adverse reactions, she said. One of her nurse friends was blinded for 30 minutes after getting a COVID-19 vaccine shot, and another 25-year-old high school friend developed Bell’s palsy within 24 hours of getting it.
“I’m not anti-vaccine. I am opposed to this COVID shot mandate, and the fact that they’re not honoring exemptions,” Gioia told The Epoch Times at the protest. “If we don’t stand up now, where does this stop?”
Another example is Emily Nixon. Nixon is a registered nurse who has been working in the health industry for 18 years. When her employer, MaineHealth, announced that it would make the vaccine mandatory, she quickly organized a group called The Coalition for Healthcare Workers Against Medical Mandates and filed a lawsuit.
“Thousands of health care workers have and will be losing their jobs. The already weak health care infrastructure of Maine will not withstand this devastating loss of staff. Life will be lost. Care is already being rationed. We have been experiencing a media blackout in this state,” Nixon said.
“Speaking from my point of view, an intelligent, healthy, and empowered health care professional that takes excellent care of herself, it is an insult to expect that I would accept an injection of unknown substance and efficacy and provide an example to the great people that I serve that they too should submit their power over to pharmaceutical companies—convicted felons—in an effort to put a band-aid on the gaping wound of reality.
Cara Ding and Enrico Trigoso contributed to this report.