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Mercy Health nurses unhappy with mandatory COVID-19 vaccine policy

A big concern among the staff is that the new policy will turn new people away from applying to the hospital.

MUSKEGON, Mich. — The COVID-19 vaccine will now be mandatory for all employees of Trinity Health, the parent company of Mercy Health.

The staff at Mercy Health Muskegon thought it would be discussed with them first.

"All of the sudden our phones started blowing up that they had sent out an email about a mandatory vaccine," says Laura Krzykwa, a nurse. "We had no clue this was coming."

And they weren't happy.

"The jobs hard enough as it is," says fellow nurse Frank Durante. "This is the last thing we need at this point."

Krzykwa and Durante are vaccinated themselves and encourage others to get it. But they want that decision to be made by the individuals.

"It's one of our rights as Americans, the freedom to choose and the freedom to make our own decisions and have autonomy," says Krzykwa.

They say a number of nurses at the hospital still haven't gotten the vaccine yet, all with various reason for choosing not to. 

No vaccines of any kind have ever been required for employees at Mercy Health. While other places, such as schools, have required them for other sicknesses for years, they say the COVID vaccine is different because there isn't as much information out there.

"Its still in emergency use, its not FDA approved, so this has not been properly vetted yet," says Krzykwa.

Which they say could give people a higher risk of missing work due to a bad reaction.

"Is Trinity going to pay them for that, because they have a reaction to that vaccine," asks nurse Wendy Trach. "What if someone were to die from the vaccine, because that has happened."

Another big concern among the staff is that the new policy will turn new people away from applying to the hospital.

"We finally got past the point where we're kind of past the brink of crumbling as a profession," says Durante. "What I would hate to see at this point is instead of getting on our feet, we're going to lose more nurses to a decision like this."

Which is already a problem, due to a nursing shortage after a difficult previous year.

"We can't adequately take care of the community who we love and who we're there to take care of," says Tom Kelsch, another nurse at Mercy.

The group, all members of the SEIU Michigan heath care union, plans to discuss the policy further with the hospital in hopes of getting it reversed.

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