FLORENCE, Ky. — Some health care workers in Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati are suing the hospitals they work for, hoping to reverse the requirements they be vaccinated for COVID-19.
Separate lawsuits against the six Cincinnati area hospital systems argue that requiring hospital workers to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 is illegal.
Twenty-seven named plaintiffs are named in a lawsuit against St. Elizabeth, the largest health care provider in Northern Kentucky. The number of plaintiffs continues to grow. More than 100 other health care workers who want to remain anonymous have agreed to help fight vaccine mandates by suing the other hospital systems, according to their spokesman Eric Deters.
Each of the six lawsuits is more than 100 pages.
Deters Law is representing the plaintiffs. Eric Deters, is retired from practicing law, but still acts as a spokesman for the law firm, which is representing the plaintiffs. Deters has his own YouTube channel called the Bulldog Show, where he has posted videos challenging vaccine mandates.
“These workers do not feel like they should be forced to take the vaccine. And this is really important, because these are educated people,” he said. “These health care workers have worked 30 years, 20 years, 10 years; they’ve given their lives; they care about their patients, and they’re having to be said, ‘Your career, or a vaccination.’ It's sick.”
St. Elizabeth, along with the other hospital systems, announced earlier this month they would require their thousands of employees to be vaccinated. UC Health, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, and the Christ Hospital Health Network said they would start the mandate by Oct. 1. Bon Secours Mercy Health and St. Elizabeth Healthcare in Edgewood said they will require the shots depending on if the mandate is that workers be fully vaccinated by early fall.
Established in 1906, the Kentucky Nurses Association (KNA) is the only full-service professional organization for the state's entire nurse population. In addition to its role to promote the essential role of the registered nurse in health care delivery, the KNA serves as an advocate for quality patient care in all settings. From the halls of Frankfort and state agencies to boardrooms, hospitals and other health care facilities, the KNA is the strong voice for the nursing profession in Kentucky.
Here is part of a release from earlier this month from the Kentucky Hospitals Association, Kentucky Medical Association, and Kentucky Nurses Association:
"Kentucky hospitals, physicians and nurses are putting patients first by joining together to call for employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The Kentucky Hospital Association (KHA), the Kentucky Medical Association (KMA) and the Kentucky Nurses Association (KNA) support hospitals and health systems amending their existing vaccine policies to require COVID-19 vaccines for their health care employees. The associations recognize that each hospital and health system is unique and encourage each hospital and health system to determine the appropriate timeline to implement a requirement."
In an interview with Spectrum News 1, KNA CEO Delanor Manson explained why she is a proponent of vaccine requirements.
“If you have been vaccinated, and you get COVID, you will have lesser symptoms, probably not need to be hospitalized, and certainly not put on a ventilator,” Manson said. “It’s critical to have nurses to take care of these COVID patients. If nurses themselves become ill, and they can’t take care of patients, what will happen to these patients? “It’s also important that they stay healthy so that they don’t infect other people, and they become patients in a hospital.”
“But then there are other people who don’t want to be forced to take the vaccine. And I really do understand that,” she said. “It is not a requirement, even if mandated, that these individuals get the vaccine. They can make a choice not to get a vaccine. But they can’t make a choice to work in an environment where they could potentially spread the disease, as well as get the disease.”
Deters said the firm, Deters Law has received more than 10,000 emails from hospital workers with vaccine concerns. The lawsuits seek a judge’s order to block hospital systems from forcing vaccines as a condition of employment, and a declaratory judgment that each hospital group’s policy violates the law
“These nurses and these health care workers are sticking to their guns. And I think the health care systems are bluffing,” Deters said. “I think they just thought everyone would cave. And the fact that they’re not caving has them nervous.”
He also alleges the hospital systems violated antitrust laws by joining together in issuing vaccine mandates, leaving hospital workers in the area with little options for employment should they choose not to get vaccinated.
He said Deters Law hopes to get a hearing in front of a federal judge.
Manson, who has been a nurse for more than 40 years, is a proponent for vaccine mandates for hospital workers. She said more than 90% of COVID patients in Kentucky hospitals are unvaccinated. She said the mental health of nurses and other hospital workers is “not so good.”
“This pandemic surge is due to unvaccinated people, and nurses and other health care providers are very frustrated,” she said. “You can only work so many hours in a day. You can only be heartbroken because individuals can’t see their family members so many times in a day, in a week, in a month.”
There is no federal law prohibiting companies from requiring vaccines.
The Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission this year ruled that employers can make a COVID-19 vaccine a condition of employment.
Spectrum News 1 reached out to St. Elizabeth and was told it would not comment on the lawsuit.