LifeSpan’s Underhanded Healthcare Worker Firings


Fired lab technician questions LifeSpan’s role in forming RIs healthcare worker vaccine mandate and its “disingenuous” approach towards its own employees.

by Michelle Sztabor

2020 was the year the world was emersed into fear. Most Americans want to trust our leaders and want to believe that they were doing the right thing with the best interest of the people in mind, so we all complied and worked together to stop the threat of what we were told was a novel virus that was killing people especially in Italy.

We all watch the news in horror as reports poured in that Italy was locked down and many were on respirators and dying. The lockdowns came to America with businesses and schools shut down. The government began handing out money to keep us home. Talks of not getting back to normal until a vaccine was procured began to circulate. Some doctors tried to treat the virus, but censorship and vilification quickly came with safe drugs being banned and people being sent home to wait until they couldn’t breathe to be treated.  Masks were mandated to be worn in all public places. If anyone questioned the ever-changing protocols, they were vilified.

My personal experience with all this is tied into the fact that I was a clinical laboratory scientist or a medical technologist as it is also called. I was employed by Miriam Hospital and at that time I was working in a satellite lab in Bristol that serviced an urgent care and a medical practice of approximately twenty-four doctor and filling in East Greenwich in a satellite lab that serviced a cancer clinic.

During 2020, I was furloughed for 7 weeks because most people were not getting routine lab work and the lab was very slow.  Then in August of 2020, I was asked to cover in East Greenwich thirty-two hours a week to cover a shortage created by an employee on medical leave while continuing to fill in at the Bristol lab as needed.  Now mind you, I had no patient contact.

The fear of the overcrowded hospitals never transpired, I contracted a mild case of COVID, and the hype never really matched the experience we were having.  Did some people get really sick…yes. Did some people die…yes.  I’m not saying this virus wasn’t real and didn’t have an impact.  What I am saying is I believe this was handled all wrong and I am very concerned that an honest conversation still can’t be had about it.  But in Rhode Island that was not the worse of it.

Talk of a vaccine was being pushed everywhere as the only option to stop the virus.  The RI Department of Health mandated that all healthcare workers regardless of patient contact get vaccinated or be terminated.  LifeSpan allowed us to fill out a request for a religious exemption but denied them all.

On Sunday, September 28th, 2021, my husband tested positive for COVID.  Since I could not get in touch with my manager, I called and texted him, and employee health was not open on the weekend, I went into work and opened the laboratory at 7 am.  I called employee health at 8 am and told them my husband had COVID and asked them if they wanted me to go home.  I was asked if I was symptomatic. I said no. They said I could work.  The very next day, my manager came into the lab, asked me if I was going to get vaccinated and if not that I was turn in my badge and keys. I could finish out the day working but it would be my last day working.  So, I could work while being exposed daily to my husband as long as I didn’t have symptoms but couldn’t work the next day without the vaccine.  What is wrong with this picture?

I have so far been denied unemployment insurance, but it is still under adjudication.  LifeSpan claims that to keep me on would have been a hardship since the state of Rhode Island would have fined them for employing me.  To that, I ask if they had input into the forming of the mandate as the largest employer of healthcare workers in the state?  Because if they did, they were well aware that the state was denying religious exemptions and offered them knowing they were going to be denied.  If this is the case, they were underhanded and disingenuous in this process.

Now we know that vaccinated people can contract and spread the virus. The mandate has been lifted in Rhode Island being treated in a similar manner as the flu which means that if you are not vaccinated and the number of infections crosses a certain threshold you are required to wear a mask if not vaccinated. Yet, LifeSpan has not called us back to work.

There is a major lesson to be learned here. Unfortunately, it may not just affect healthcare workers because Senator Bell thought it would be a good idea to introduce a bill that would force all Rhode Island residents to get vaccinated with threat of fines, doubling of taxes, and fining employers who hire them. Also, our school children were masked with no evidence that it would mitigate transmission of the virus and RI continued to double down on this for two years and may reinstitute it if infection numbers go up.

We now have evidence that vaccines don’t stop transmission and that masking made no statistical difference when worn  compared to when not worn.  What is not discussed is the unintended consequences of all these choices.  I am seriously considering getting involved somehow in having a voice that raises the concerns that many people have had about these imposed mandates so that they will not happen again. I hope others will consider doing the same thing.

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