Healthcare workers protest Novant Health’s vaccine mandate

NEW HANOVER COUNTY (WWAY) — Healthcare workers and supporters stood across the street from New Hanover Regional Medical Center Saturday, protesting a recent vaccine mandate.

Novant Health recently announced employees would have until September 15 to be vaccinated, or until the end of August to apply for an exemption. That’s why 20 to 30 people showed up by the Medical Center Drive and South 17th Street intersection holding up homemade signs in protest.

Some, like healthcare worker Janet Keech believed the vaccine could pose a health threat to health threat to her pre-existing conditions.

“I’ve done great for the last 20 months,” said Keech. “I don’t need a vaccine to hurt me more than I’m already hurt.”

Others, like former healthcare worker, Megan Gueiss objected to the vaccine and lack of choice on spiritual grounds.

According to Gueiss, “I’m just going to believe that he is going to love me, and he’s going to protect me. And I just don’t believe that I should put a vaccine in my body that I have not had confirmation or even feel at peace about within myself.”

All protesters believed healthcare workers and people in general should have the right to choose, though many who disagree argue that could put patients at risk.

“I have to pay attention to how I’m caring for myself,” Gueiss continued. “Because if I’m not caring for myself, then how can I help them.”

One healthcare worker who wished to remain anonymous said she’d stand her ground. She wouldn’t get the vaccine until the FDA approved it, but she worried about what affect it could have on her career.

“I’ve been employed by New Hanover for 17 years, and if I lose my job, where am I going to be employed at again? They own practically everything in New Hanover county now.”

With existing staff shortages, others worried the community as a whole could feel the mandate’s impact.

“It’s sad,” Keech explained, “because the people, the patients that are sick are the ones that are going to be paying the price. And my coworkers. My coworkers that got the vaccine, they’re already short, and they’re exhausted.”

The same group plans to hold a similar protest next Saturday from 10am to 2pm, holding signs across the street from Novant Health.

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