HOUSTON — Today is the deadline for all Houston Methodist employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine. if they don't have it, they'll be fired. The nurse who has spoken out about the issue from the beginning said she’s ready for her last shift.
“I know I’m going to cry. I’ve already cried with fellow coworkers. I thought I’d be staying there for the rest of my life basically,” said Jennifer Bridges, who has worked as a registered nurse with the hospital for six years.
Bridges said employees who are not vaccinated by June 7 will be suspended without pay for two weeks. If they have not gotten a COVID-19 vaccine at that point, they will be terminated.
“I’d rather be 80, 90 years old on my death bed knowing I did the right thing, rather than doing something for money or to keep a job. That’s not what’s important,” Bridges said.
The Baytown nurse is one of 117 healthcare workers now suing Houston Methodist. The lawsuit claims it’s illegal to force employees to participate in a vaccine clinical trial. Bridges said they have a hearing in federal court this week.
“If we can win that battle, we won’t be fired. If we don’t and they win, we will get terminated, but it will go to the Supreme Court as a wrongful termination lawsuit. We will fight this until the bitter end,” she said.
Bridges started a GoFundMe page to raise money for the group’s legal representation.
Dr. Marc Boom, CEO and President of Houston Methodist released the following statement:
“As of May 28, 99 percent of Houston Methodist’s 26,000 employees have met the requirements for the vaccination mandate. We are extremely proud of our employees for doing the right thing and protecting our patients from this deadly virus. As health care workers, it is our sacred obligation to do whatever we can to protect our patients, who are the most vulnerable in our community. It is our duty and our privilege.
It is unfortunate that the few remaining employees who refuse to get vaccinated and put our patients first are responding in this way. It is legal for health care institutions to mandate vaccines, as we have done with the flu vaccine since 2009. The COVID-19 vaccines have proven through rigorous trials to be very safe and very effective and are not experimental. More than 165 million people in the U.S. alone have received vaccines against COVID-19, and this has resulted in the lowest numbers of infections in our country and in the Houston region in more than a year.
We proudly stand by our employees and our mission to protect our patients.”
Monday on CBS This Morning, Janet Shamlian will be live from Houston covering this story