“We’re already seeing corruption and queue jumping and we’ve only just begun,” said Eduardo Almeida, First Vice President and Treasurer for the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, in response to reports that a member of the Headwaters Health Care Centre management team disregarded the province’s priority list when they brought a family member to the premises to get vaccinated.
Just days after reports that Canada’s most recent allotment of the Pfizer vaccine will be halved due to a production delay, there are indications that hospital staff across the province have been ignoring provincial orders in order to get the protection of the vaccine before the most vulnerable have received it. According to OPSEU, hospital workers that are on leave and public relations executives have been among those to do this.
“We’re still in Phase 1 of the vaccine rollout, which should see only the highest priority individuals getting jabbed, but instead we’re seeing hospital managers abuse their power,” declared Almeida. “This does not bode well for the public or staff’s trust in the vaccine rollout.”
Headwaters Health Care Centre President Kim Delahunt told CTV News that the family member was receiving unrelated tests while the clinic was running, and obtained the vaccination during a break in scheduled appointments at the region’s vaccination clinic.
Other members of the union’s leadership had stronger words.
“If the people in charge of the rollout, including hospital managers, can’t be trusted to follow the rules, then they’ll need to be replaced. The province must send a clear message that rule breakers will be booted,” said OSPEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “The province has prioritized high-risk populations in order to save lives. Every time an individual outside this targeted group jumps the queue to get vaccinated, they’re putting someone else’s life in jeopardy.”
Delahunt confirmed to CTV News that the staff director has decided to retire.
In part of Delahunt’s statement to CTV News she stated, “As health care professionals we have an obligation to make appropriate decisions and as leaders must accept that we will be held to a higher standard. However, as humans, we are also influenced by our innate sense of duty and care for our families. This was a failure in sound decision making by one individual, for which they and the hospital are deeply sorry. This was an isolated incident.”
Thomas mentioned that health care workers are frustrated about the hurdles that are in the way of getting vaccinated. as some hospitals are requiring them to use personal banked credits to get the vaccine. He lays down how the province has an obligation to ensure that vaccine prioritization is respected and that no barriers exist.
“We keep hearing that front line health care workers are heroes,” asserted Thomas. “Well, it’s time for hospital management to show their appreciation through actions, not just hollow words. These front-line heroes deserve access to the vaccine before management’s personal guest list.”
Updated to include reporting from CTV News.
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