QUINCY — Eleven former and current employees of Blessing Health System and Quincy Medical Group who say they were suspended without pay or terminated from their jobs because they refused to receive COVID-19 vaccinations or refused to be tested regularly are part of a lawsuit filed Monday in Adams County Circuit Court.
Both health care providers are mandating either the vaccine or regular testing as part of Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker’s executive order regarding employees in medical-related positions.
A request was sent to both Blessing Health System and Quincy Medical Group for a comment about the lawsuit.
Blessing Health System President and Chief Executive Officer Maureen Kahn said in a prepared statement, “There is no vaccine mandate for Blessing Health System employees. Per the governor’s executive order, and of last Friday, per COVID emergency regulations of Title 77 of the Public Health Code of Hospital Licensing, Illinois healthcare workers — including Blessing staff — have a choice to be vaccinated or to test for COVID weekly as an alternative to being vaccinated. Blessing Health System does not want any employee to leave the organization and respects the choice they make regarding their body and their health.”
Blessing Public Relations added, “Blessing Health System will not share numbers regarding the choices its employees have made or make in the future regarding this situation. We feel the choice they make is a personnel issue.”
Erica Douglas, a communications specialist with Quincy Medical Group, replied in an email, “We do not comment on active litigation.”
QMG also declined to provide the number of employees who were terminated or suspended as part of the governor’s executive order.
Blessing Hospital’s compliance with the executive order began Sept. 20. When asked last week when Quincy Medical Group would comply with the executive order, Douglas sent the following email reply: “Vaccines are the best way to protect one another and to bring an end to the pandemic. QMG will continue to take all required measures to protect patients and our team.”
DeVore, of Greenville, has represented numerous plaintiffs against several Illinois school districts regarding masks in schools and quarantines.
“My drive to assist these employees is my concern that the quality of patient care will suffer dramatically. said Steve McQueen, spokesman for the plaintiffs. “It is unfortunate that politics come before people at establishments where their sole mission is to care for people.”
McQueen said he has listened to the plaintiffs and wanted to support their cause.
“I am a survivor of Stage 4 cancer, and that survival is directly or indirectly a result of many of the healthcare workers mentioned,” McQueen said. “I owe them my life. I have learned a great deal about the quality of care that Blessing and QMG are currently capable of. I have had in-depth conversations with managers within the organization who requested to remain anonymous (regarding concerns about quality of care due to staffing shortages).”
McQueen said QMG employees have been “excluded” from work and suspended “without pay” unless they subject to the vaccine or testing.
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