FARMINGTON, Mo. – Mercy employees who have made the personal decision not to get the COVID-19 are having to face the harsh reality of choosing between their freedom of choice or their livelihood.
Mercy has confirmed that there have been no terminations at this point, but they have followed through on unpaid suspensions and have seen resignations letters from those who do not plan on getting the job.
Sept. 30 was the deadline for employees at Mercy and SSM Health to get fully vaccinated against the virus before the unpaid suspension began. Employees now have until October 28 to comply with the mandate before they are fired.
Tracie Dane has been working as a registered nurse for Mercy Hospital Jefferson in Festus since March. She is one employee who does not wish to get the vaccine.
She says over half of her co-workers were against getting the vaccine before the mandate was announced.
“Mercy talks about that quite a bit; that most of their staff has complied with the vaccine, but it’s not through their choosing. It’s through fear of losing their jobs. Fear of not being able to provide for their family. Its coercion is the word I use for it. It’s the definition of it,” Dane said.
Dane fears the unknown as the end of October approaches. She and her husband have two children to take care of and a mortgage to pay. Dane is currently on unpaid suspension but has made it clear she wants her job and will not willingly resign.
She says she will continue to express her want, need, and desire to work for Mercy.
Healthcare workers in the region and across the nation protest the vaccine mandate over the past month. Despite a significant portion of Mercy employees expressing their disapproval of the mandate, Mercy has not changed their stance.
They released a statement last week stating, in part, “It has been a difficult time for Mercy with the loss of some co-workers who contributed to the mission of Mercy through the years, but Mercy simply believes this is the right thing to do to protect our communities from the spread of COVID-19.”
Though Dane faces losing her job, over a decade of servitude as a registered nurse, and ridicule from others, she says she only has one regret.
“I think that my biggest regret through all of this is not being loud enough. Not being active enough. This is tyranny. We have a right to medical freedom over our own bodies and this isn’t it,” she said.
Mercy did give their employees an option to get a medical or religious exemption. Dane was denied both.
She believes those who are against vaccine mandates, regardless of their vaccination status, need to stand together, unite, and demand change.