OPINION: Sarasota Memorial stands tall in standing by mandate

·2 min read
Washington Hill, a longtime obstetrician-gynecologist in the Sarasota Memorial Hospital system, receives a COVID vaccination shot from a colleague. Sarasota Memorial deserves praise for sticking to a federal mandate calling for all health care workers to become vaccinated.
Washington Hill, a longtime obstetrician-gynecologist in the Sarasota Memorial Hospital system, receives a COVID vaccination shot from a colleague. Sarasota Memorial deserves praise for sticking to a federal mandate calling for all health care workers to become vaccinated.

Sadly the final chapter on Florida’s battle against COVID will not be penned anytime in the foreseeable future. But it's not too early to make this judgment: when that history is eventually written, it will look favorably and kindly upon Sarasota Memorial Hospital's response to the pandemic.

From the tireless, heroic work of its doctors and medical staffers in caring for patients to the courage shown by its administrators in embracing tough decisions on hospital policies, Sarasota Memorial has shown a sustained willingness to prioritize the public’s health above all else as COVID has continued to sicken, kill and – in unsettling fashion – morph.

More: Sarasota Memorial reinstating vaccine requirement for workers after Supreme Court ruling

That’s why Sarasota Memorial should be applauded, yet again, for not bending and wilting under the oppressively intimidating environment that’s developed across our state thanks to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ obsessive and shortsighted war on proactive COVID vaccination mandates.

Sarasota Memorial’s leadership has acted properly in moving to reinstate a vaccination mandate for the hospital’s staffers – and for doing so almost instantly after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a federal requirement calling for health care workers to become vaccinated.

Under the current version of that guideline, staffers at Sarasota Memorial Hospital who are now unvaccinated must complete the vaccination process by late February or risk losing their positions.

Is this a harsh stance? Given the stakes at hand – an omicron variant that is still spreading across our community and a self-destructive stubbornness regarding vaccination that is still endangering vast numbers of Floridians – the answer should be obvious.

Absolutely not.

Sarasota Memorial Hospital
Sarasota Memorial Hospital

Is it a responsible stance? That answer, too, should be beyond debate.

Absolutely yes.

And, fortunately, "absolutely yes" has unfailingly been the appropriate answer when assessing whether Sarasota Memorial Hospital has acted in the best interests of our community’s public health throughout the still-menacing pandemic.

Sarasota Memorial is doing the right thing by making clear that all of its staffers must do the right thing, too. Frankly it's time to get vaccinated – or to get out.

This article originally appeared on Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Sarasota Memorial is right to stick to 'get shots or get out' policy

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