Guthrie employee speaks out about being suspended

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FILE – In this Dec. 16, 2020, file photo, Julie Petre, an ICU pharmacist, receives the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccination at St. Peter’s Health in Helena, Mont. Medical providers and Montana residents with compromised immune systems are challenging the only law in the U.S. that prevents state employers from mandating workers get vaccinated amid a surge of COVID-19 infections. They argue the new law violates federal requirements for safe workplaces and reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities and want a federal judge to rule that it doesn’t apply to hospitals and other medical providers. (Thom Bridge/Independent Record via AP, File)

NEW YORK (WETM) – One Guthrie healthcare worker, who has been leading protests against the vaccine mandate since it was announced back in August, is speaking out about being suspended. New York’s vaccine mandate deadline for healthcare workers was on Monday.

“I arrived into work…just like everything was normal and I was immediately taken into a meeting where I was notified that I was going to be suspended for a week followed by termination this upcoming Monday,” said former Guthrie employee, Sam Bennett.

Bennett was a patient service specialist at Robert Packer Hospital in Sayre, Pennsylvania. As of Monday, he was suspended from working there because he chose not to get his COVID-19 vaccine.

“Guthrie has had minimal changes in our staffing related to the vaccination requirement, as our caregivers have stepped up to meet the program requirements, placing patient safety first,” said Dr. Edmund Sabanegh, President and CEO of The Guthrie Clinic.

In a statement, Guthrie said 97% of all employees were compliant with the vaccine.

“I loved my work there at the Guthrie, I loved my patients, I cared so much for them… Along with plenty of other healthcare workers who worked right through this pandemic… every single day no vaccination and they were heroes… now they’re criminal?” said Bennett.

Bennett has been organizing protests against the healthcare worker vaccine mandate ever since it was announced back in August. These protests attracted hundreds of people

“It was [either] lose our jobs, or put something in our body that we don’t feel is right,” said Bennett.

Guthrie does allow for a religious exemption for their employees. but Bennett said he wouldn’t have filed for one anyway. 

“I would have only taken an [religious] exemption on it if I did not have to state my religious beliefs.. and they have no right to know that information, they do not need to know what you believe,” said Bennett.

Since his suspension, Bennett has started working at another job. He said he had no problem finding another job and believes he made the right decision.

Suspended employees have one week to get their vaccines. If unvaccinated employees at Guthrie do not get their first dose by next Monday, they will be terminated.

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