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51 employees at CMH placed on unpaid leave for failing to meet vaccine deadline

Service levels at Cambridge Memorial Hospital unaffected, says hospital spokesperson, with 96.8 per cent of staff fully or partially vaccinated

Cambridge Memorial Hospital is saying it's business as usual even though 51 staff members are at home this week on unpaid leave for failing to attest to their vaccination status by the Oct. 12 deadline.

Overall, the hospital is reporting 96.8 per cent of CMH's roster of 1,208 staff and physicians have provided proof they are fully vaccinated or signed an attestation that they have one dose and will be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Nov. 9.

Hospital spokesperson Stephan Beckhoff said there will be no operational impact to services as a result of the action.

"Many of our departments are at 100 per cent. There's no operational impact. There's not going to be any delays in service or anything like that," he said. "It's basically the same as yesterday."

Prior to Tuesday's deadline, staff who chose not to become vaccinated, are partially vaccinated or chose not to divulge their vaccination status had to submit to rapid antigen tests twice weekly starting Sept. 10.

Staff with non-compliant vaccination status or valid medical exemption also had to provide proof they completed a mandatory education session by Sept. 14.

Any staff member who fails to comply with the hospital's vaccine mandate by Nov. 9 will face consequences up to termination of employment, Beckhoff said.

The hospital's vaccine mandate follows Directive 6 from Ontario's chief medical officer of health, which requires all hospital staff across the province to provide proof of full vaccination by the November deadline.

The CMOH issued the mandate in August, stating that unvaccinated staff in higher-risk settings like hospitals and long term care homes are considered a risk to patients and health care system capacity due to the potential reintroduction of COVID-19 into those settings.