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Phoebe responds to protesters outside north campus

Published: Sep. 28, 2021 at 10:45 PM EDT
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Phoebe Putney Health System will soon be implementing a new COVID-19 vaccine policy for its employees.

Starting Oct. 4, Phoebe employees that are not vaccinated against COVID-19 will have to get tested weekly for the virus.

On Tuesday, some members of the community gathered outside of the hospital’s north campus in protest of that decision.

The protesters said their goal is to give a voice to healthcare workers who feel like they can’t choose what goes into their bodies.

Protesters outside of Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital's north campus in Albany on September 28,...
Protesters outside of Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital's north campus in Albany on September 28, 2021.(WALB)

A Phoebe spokesperson said most current employees can choose between the shot or getting tested. However, new employees, managers, physicians and advanced practice providers are required to be vaccinated.

“So, when this mandate came about, it caught my attention because it went against everything I was taught in nursing school and about nursing ethics and medical ethics and we just decided to get out here and show support for people that want to have a choice about what they put in their bodies,” said Heather Holton, a protester and nurse.

Protesters outside of Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital's north campus in Albany on September 28,...
Protesters outside of Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital's north campus in Albany on September 28, 2021.(WALB)

“We’re not out here protesting a vaccine, we’re out here protesting the lack of freedom to choose whether we can have to inject something in our bodies or not,” said protester Teresa Knight.

Phoebe responded to the protests with the following statement:

“For decades, it has been standard procedure for hospitals across this great country to require certain vaccinations for their employees. Those policies are sensible, practical and widely accepted. They protect healthcare workers and patients and help ensure hospitals do not face instances of mass illness among employees which would impact their ability to provide adequate care to their communities.

The policies are not an assault on anyone’s liberty. In fact, hospitals would be derelict if they did not undertake these measures to minimize the spread of illnesses which can be largely prevented through vaccination.

Today, we are caring for 108 COVID-19 patients in our hospitals, and 90% of them are unvaccinated. Hospitals all across our state have been overwhelmed by record numbers of mostly unvaccinated COVID-19 patients, making it more difficult to provide timely treatment to many other patients seeking care. The severity of this summer surge could have been dramatically reduced if our community’s vaccination rate were higher.

The science proves the COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective at preventing serious illness. Our hospitals are not filled with patients who have suffered side effects from vaccination. They are filled with people who are critically ill with COVID. We know vaccination can help prevent similar surges. We are committed to putting Safety First. We are comfortable with the employee vaccination policy we have implemented. And we encourage everyone to protect themselves and to do what is right for the general health of our community by getting vaccinated.”

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