CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Five people are no longer employed by the Medical University of South Carolina after refusing the COVID-19 vaccine, as mandated by the company’s new policy.
Heather Woolwine, director of public affairs and media relations, said employees were notified about the new policy in April and that it would go into effect by June 30th, beginning with leaders and new hires.
In its new policy, MUSC Health stated their reasoning for the mandate was due to healthcare workers being on the front lines in the fight against COVID-19. “Healthcare personnel’s occupation type and job setting can contribute to their risk of acquiring COVID-19 and experiencing severe outcomes,” the policy reads.
Employees who qualified for medical or religious exemptions did not have to receive the vaccine after submitting an exemption to MUSC Health.
Attorney Jerry Wigger says that South Carolina is an employment at will state, which means that employers can make anything a condition of employment.
This means that MUSC is within their right to have this policy and there is not much the former employees can do to appeal their terminations.
“Well since they’re a government employee there is a grievance process. But they wouldn’t get a judge or a jury or that type of thing, it’d just go through administrative process,” said Wigger. “But if they don’t qualify for those two exemptions I don’t know of anything else that would protect them.”
Meanwhile, Trident Health says about 70% of its staff has been vaccinated. “We continue to offer the vaccine to new employees, staff and their family members,” a spokesman said.
Roper St. Francis Healthcare told News 2 they have not pulled back on their mask requirements. “This applies to everyone — patients, patient support persons, teammates, and medical staff,” a spokesman said. “We have these mandates in place for the safety of our patients and their support persons.”
Neither hospital announced terminations or policies for not getting vaccinated.