by Steve Robinson at childrenshealthdefense.org
Nurses and other healthcare workers at MaineGeneral Health, one of Maine’s largest healthcare providers, were unceremoniously fired two years ago if they refused to take the experimental mRNA injections touted as COVID-19 preventatives.
Some of those workers were even slapped with misconduct charges for refusing to comply with the mandate, many were later denied unemployment benefits and no requests for religious exemptions were honored.
Now, one of the nonprofit hospitals that left some employees jobless and without recourse to Maine’s unemployment insurance benefits is sending text messages to the same employees it cast aside practically begging them to come back to work.
“You were once a proud member of the MaineGeneral team. Would you consider rejoining us? We would be pleased to discuss options with you,” the MaineGeneral Health Recruitment team said in a text message to former registered nurse Terry Poland.
“As you know, nearly 2 years ago MaineGeneral had to comply with a state mandate for COVID-19 vaccination. We lost a number of great employees as a result, including you,” MaineGeneral said.
“MaineGeneral has eliminated the COVID-19 vaccination as an employment condition,” MaineGeneral said.
Poland, who lives in Augusta, had worked as a registered nurse for 33 years. Her career included employment with MaineGeneral, Central Maine Medical Center, Pen Bay Medical Center and the Aroostook Medical Center.
She couldn’t believe that the hospital would contact her in such a manner after casting her life into chaos for nearly two years.
“I was livid. Like, how dare you force me out of a career that I’ve dedicated my whole life to, taken away my livelihood, my ability to earn a good income, and now you think I’m gonna come grovel back to you?” Poland said.
“I don’t hardly think so. And that’s the attitude of most everybody that I’ve been in contact with since yesterday.”
A source told the Maine Wire that about 15 former MaineGeneral Health employees received similar text messages.
Poland refused to take the experimental COVID-19 shots after Gov. Janet Mills decreed on Aug. 12, 2021, that healthcare workers would be forced to receive the shots as a condition of working in healthcare by Oct. 1, 2021.
Documents reviewed by the Maine Wire show that MaineGeneral established a speedier timeline of Sept. 17 for compliance.
Eventually, the state pushed back the deadline to the end of October.
Poland was never opposed to vaccines generally speaking.
Though she previously used a religious exemption to avoid taking an influenza shot, she willingly took the other vaccines required to work in healthcare prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, including immunizations for measles, mumps, rubella and hepatitis B.
She said she was concerned about the novel nature of the mRNA technology, a form of gene therapy, which prior to COVID-19 had not been used in the standard schedule of immunizations.
“I knew enough not to take it. I’ve been a nurse long enough to know I need to question what new products are,” Poland said. “I’m not going to be the first one to jump on board of an experiment.”
When she discovered that fetal tissues are commonly used in the development and production of the drugs, that only strengthened her resolve as a Christian not to get the injections.
In previous years, Poland has said she was allowed an exemption from taking the influenza shot so long as she wore a mask during flu season. However, the hospital was unwilling to provide this accommodation for COVID-19.
As a result of her choice, Poland faced not only termination but also an allegation of misconduct from her former employer.
When she applied for unemployment benefits, she was rejected because of the misconduct allegation.
When she appealed, she was turned away.
Documents reviewed by the Maine Wire show that the Maine Department of Labor determined that MaineGeneral Health “discharged” her; however, the agency concluded that Poland’s refusal to get the injections was a violation that constituted a “culpable breach of obligations to the employer.”
As a result, Poland had to rely on her savings to get by in the middle of economically disastrous government lockdowns and soaring inflation.
Poland then sought help from the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, claiming that she’d been discriminated against on the basis of her religious beliefs.
MaineGeneral Health, in responding to the commission, argued that allowing Poland religious accommodations would impose an “undue hardship” on the hospital. On that basis, the commission declined to take on her case.
The Maine Human Rights Commission also rejected her discrimination complaint.
“[T]here has been positive energy between human resource personnel and managers who are in the process of working together to reach out to former employees to see if they are interested in returning,” said Joy McKenna, director of communications for MaineGeneral, in an email.
“Since Monday, we are only aware of a few people who have indicated that they are interested in having a conversation about applying for an open position,” she said. “We currently have 453 open positions, which is similar to our pre-COVID open position count.”
McKenna said the hospital did not intentionally fire unvaccinated employees in a way that would block them from getting unemployment benefits.
Some of those positions have been filled by foreign nationals with green cards, McKenna said, though she was not able to provide an exact number on Aug. 9.read more