Hospital manager ‘retires’ after union intervenes in COVID-19 vaccine queue jumping scandal

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Toronto – OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas says a hospital director who jumped the COVID-19 vaccine queue is retiring voluntarily after intervention from the union, but says the hospital’s response is too accommodating for such a grave breach of protocol.

“She had to go,” said Thomas. “But the hospital leadership must take this more seriously. When someone in management commits such a serious breach in protocol and then walks away with a retirement deal, it won’t send a strong enough message to other managers who may decide to exercise their retirement or severance option. The same people who got passed in the vaccine queue are some of the same taxpayers who are paying for her severance package.”

After breaking the story that a hospital manager at Orangeville’s Headwaters Health Centre had pushed her own family member to the front of the line for the COVID-19 vaccine, ahead of priority front line staff, a memo was sent to staff from hospital President and CEO, Kim Delahunt, that the director had made the decision to retire.

In her memo to staff, Delahunt paints a sympathetic picture of the director as someone influenced by a sense of duty to her family. OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida says that’s not good enough.

“The success of Ontario’s vaccine rollout depends on trust and fairness,” said Almeida. “We all want to keep ourselves and our family members safe and healthy, but not at the cost of someone else’s life – that’s deeply immoral.

“As a health care leader, she should have known better,” said Almeida. “More was expected of her and higher expectations come with higher consequences. Retirement is a reward, not a punishment and this approach absolutely sends the wrong message to hospital staff and the public who are watching closely and horrified by what they see.”

“We’re glad to have shone some sunlight on this scandal,” said Thomas. “But if our hospitals are to be the epicentre of the vaccine rollout, they need to be trusted. If they can’t be trusted to handle these situations in a serious way, the public must know the province will intervene swiftly.

“There must be clear consequences for rule breakers,” said Thomas. “A clearer message needs to be sent. An example needs to be established.  Right here. Right now.”

For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931

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