Benefis Makes Employee COVID-19 Vaccinations Mandatory

E-City Beat has received numerous messages and documents from Great Falls Benefis Health Systems employees and others concerning mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for all employees as a condition of continued employment.

Here is a screenshot of the ‘Heads-Up’ email sent from Benefis CEO John Goodnow to all Benefis employees.

Here is a comment from a Benefis employee who asks to remain anonymous, understandably so.

“Multiple employees at Benefis outraged by the vaccine mandate. Employees are being bribed with money and higher ups are using scare tactics to make employees comply. Nearly 35% of the employees have not been vaccinated and are scared to be terminated due to not wanting to get the vaccine.”

One employee said, “I do not want to get the vaccine but since it will now be mandatory i will have to get it because I can not afford to lose my job.”

Take a look at a page from the Benefis newsletter stating that the vaccine will be a requirement for employment at BHS.

And here is another comment in an email E-City Beat received yesterday:

“They are Mandating a vaccine that has not been approved from the FDA besides for emergency use. We do not know the long term effects of the vaccine because it has only been out for a few months. They do not know how long the vaccine will last and how many booster shots you may need.

There is so much still unknown about these vaccines but they are in a rush to make all employees get vaccinated.

Benefis says to refer to the CDC for the latest facts. On the CDC website it states ” Getting vaccinated is a personal choice” so why are Benefis employees in jeopardy of losing their jobs if they refuse to get the vaccine? 

As an employee you can be deferred for medical and religious reasons but not strictly for the reason of not wanting to get it due to it being an experimental vaccine and not knowing the long term side effects.  Also it is not promised that if you put in a deferral for medical or religious reasons that it will get approved.”

Stay tuned to E-City Beat this week for more on what’s going on with the Benefis Health Systems vaccine mandate.

Benefis FNP: Patient Care Should Trump Union Constraints

On March 9, the Tribune reported that a majority of Benefis RNs signed interest cards to vote on whether or not to form a union. Since then, opposition to unionizing has grown.

Julia Fitzpatrick, FNP, has a good letter-to-the-editor in the Tribune today. It comes after a recent KRTV story detailing her efforts to prevent Benefis nurses from unionizing. Fitzpatrick has organized a “majority of advanced practice registered nurses at the hospital to sign a petition in opposition.”

How has the Montana Nurses Association union been working to drum up support for its efforts? According to Fitzpatrick, by bashing the very people it wishes to unionize. “The union has been insulting us at Benefis, saying that we provide poor and unsafe care. We know that that’s not true, and the union really has nothing to offer us,” Fitzpatrick told KRTV.

You can read her letter below, or at the Tribune online:

No union at Benefis 

The Tribune published an article regarding the Montana Nurses Association’s efforts to unionize Nurses and Advance Practice Registered Nurses at Benefis.

A union is not necessary at Benefis. As an APRN, my primary concern is for the safety and health of my patients. Throughout this organizing process, the MNA has repeatedly attacked the nurses at Benefis by claiming falsely that Benefis patients receive poor quality care.

I am deeply concerned a union will hurt patient care. We work in a complicated, rapidly evolving environment. It is imperative that we work quickly to solve emergencies and diagnose problems. There isn’t time during an emergency to worry about work rules, seniority, and the other types of encumbrances unions place on a workplace. [emphasis added]

Benefis nurses have little to gain from joining the MNA. The MNA is an ineffective policy advocate. For years, they have tried to pass legislation to prohibit assault on nurses and have been unable to do so.

Only the union will benefit if this passes. The dues charged by the union are excessive and will be close to $750 a year. Many of my colleagues are single moms and this would create an extreme hardship.

Finally, the union cannot promise to improve staffing ratios or increase the number of nurses at Benefis. In fact, the MNA has stood in the way of recruiting efforts across Montana by opposing nursing compacts in the last two legislative sessions.

Please support the nurses who are taking a stand against the union.

—Julia Fitzpatrick FNP 

Great Falls