Ascension Sacred Heart employees file lawsuit over vaccine mandate

Bay County

BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB)– Back in September, the Biden administration announced a required vaccine mandate for businesses with 100 or more employees.

The mandate requires those employees to be fully vaccinated by Jan. 4th, or they must wear face masks and submit to weekly COVID-19 testing. The Biden mandate leaves no question about vaccinations in hospitals.
It requires all workers at health facilities that receive federal funding, including major hospitals and nursing homes, to be vaccinated. That affects 17 million workers in 76, 000 facilities across the United States.

Some hospitals have decided to implement their own vaccine mandate policies. Ascension Sacred Heart announced in July that employees not vaccinated by Nov. 12th would be out of a job.

Destin attorney Greg Crosslin is representing about two dozen workers fighting against the vaccine.
He claims it would be medically irresponsible for the hospital to enact such a mandate.

“We already have a shortage of doctors and nurses in our area and they’re going to create more,” said Crosslin. Crosslin also said that his clients love their jobs, and during the pandemic, they were hailed as heroes without the vaccine.

One of those employees is nurse anesthetist, Steve Johnson who has worked at the hospital since 2013.

“By the 12th, I’ll probably be out of a job and I have a family to feed,” Johnson said.

Johnson is opposed to taking the vaccine.

“It is my religious belief that we have the right to choose what goes into our bodies,” Johnson said.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis also disagrees with the federal mandates. He recently enacted an executive order specifically prohibiting businesses from requiring customers to show proof of their vaccination status.

The Florida Department of Health fined Leon County more than $3.5 million dollars for mandating vaccination for their employees and for terminating unvaccinated employees.

Crosslin also said he believes such a mandate would violate the patient bill of rights. According to the Florida statute, a patient has a right to be given by his or her health provider information concerning diagnosis, planned course of treatment along with alternatives or risks. A patient also has the right to refuse treatment.

“What they are doing is they’re saying that you have to go take this. If you take a shot you have automatically become a patient, whether you want to be it or not,” said Crosslin.

Crosslin has filed complaints with Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, the Florida Department of Public Health, the Florida Surgeon General, and Ascension Sacred Heart.

He’s sent a formal complaint to Ascension Sacred Heart CEO Thomas Van Osdol, which according to Crosslin has not been answered.

Crosslin said his clients provided religious exemptions to Ascension Sacred Heart Regional President Henry Stovall.

The basis for the exemption is spelled out in a letter from Destiny Worship Center pastor Steve Vaggalis.
Vaggalis claims pharmaceutical companies used aborted fetal cell lines to develop or test vaccines.
According to Crosslin, the requests were denied.

The DeSantis administration also called for a special session on Nov. 15th to take up legislation to prevent vaccine mandates from being enacted by businesses. Crosslin is calling for the hospital to wait until the special session is over. As it now stands any employee not vaccinated by Nov. 12th will face termination at a later date.

News 13 reached out to Ascension Sacred Heart for a statement who said they were unable to comment at this time.

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