Beaumont suspends 370 workers who haven't been vaccinated

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

Beaumont Health System, Michigan’s largest hospital system, confirmed Thursday it has suspended 370 workers for not receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

Those workers will be reinstated if they get the shots, Beaumont communications head Mark Geary said in an email. 

The news came the same day Henry Ford Health System acknowledged that about 400 workers had “voluntarily resigned” from the Detroit-based hospital system after not meeting a vaccination deadline. 

Aerial view of Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak

Southfield-based Beaumont announced in July it would issue a mandate for employees and providers practicing medicine or working at facilities across its eight-hospital system. It said the mandate would go into effect after the U.S. Food & Drug Administration fully approved one or more of the current vaccines.

The FDA issued full approval of the Pfizer vaccine on Aug. 23.

Beaumont said its staffers would have to be fully vaccinated within six weeks of full FDA approval of any viable COVID-19 vaccine. Those who didn't meet exemptions and refused vaccination would initially be suspended, according to its announcement.

"Employees needed to have at least one dose of a COVID vaccine by Oct. 18 to meet our vaccine requirements," Geary said Thursday.

Geary said the 370 people suspended represent about 1% of its 33,000 staffers.

"We are very pleased to report the vast majority of Beaumont employees have been vaccinated against COVID-19," he said in an email. "We know the vaccine is safe, effective and saves lives."

Those who fail to meet the vaccine requirements by Nov. 16 will be terminated, Geary said. "We hope that those 370 employees will choose to get vaccinated and return to work soon."

Approximately 70 employees have resigned because they chose not to get vaccinated, Geary said.

In June, Henry Ford became the first Michigan health system to require COVID-19 vaccinations for its employees. 

The mandate started with a Sept. 10 deadline and applied to workers as well as students, volunteers and contractors at the five-hospital health system, about 33,000 members.

Henry Ford's policy called for employees found not to be in compliance to be suspended. They were expected to complete their vaccination process by Oct. 1 or face firing.

On Thursday, Dana Jay, a representative for the system, said about 400 employees who left earlier this month had voluntarily resigned, meaning "if they choose to bring themselves into compliance with our vaccine policy they are eligible for rehire."

Jay added that "compliance with our vaccine mandate is now a condition of employment at Henry Ford."

Before the September deadline, 51 Henry Ford employees sued over the mandate, alleging they faced "potential harm and death" by receiving the vaccine.

Days later, shortly after President Joe Biden announced a vaccine mandate for businesses and health care facilities and hours before a hearing, the lawsuit was withdrawn.

Meanwhile, Michigan's COVID-19 infection numbers have climbed for more than 13 weeks amid concerns over the highly contagious delta variant.

On Wednesday, the state added 7,108 cases and 135 deaths, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. The figures pushed the overall totals to 1,097,129 confirmed cases and 21,744 deaths since the virus was first detected in the state in March 2020.

The state last week added 26,105 cases and 250 deaths. 

Overall, Michigan ranks 12th nationally for new cases per population over the last seven days, according to data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Two weeks earlier, the state ranked 20th.

Through Thursday, 68.4% of Michigan residents age 16 or older had received at least one vaccine dose, according to the state website.