A veteran nurse has come forward to share her personal ordeal in deciding between the COVID-19 vaccination or her job.
Nancy Hossfeld Cuzman, R.N. declined the vaccine because she says, among several reasons, it could make her underlying health conditions worse. As a result, she is now unemployed.
“To me, this was the only decision I could make and sleep at night,” said Hossfeld Cuzman. “I feel like I’m living in an alternate universe. When did we lose the right to make decisions about our health?”
Hossfeld Cuzman’s experience is one among many in which health care workers are caught between making an informed decision over their health care and gainful employment. Health care workers have been a primary target of vaccine coercion given the nature of what they do: take care of sick people. While even government health authorities acknowledge the COVID-19 vaccines are incapable of stopping transmission of a virus, health care workers are considered “models” to the rest of the public. If they say no to the vaccine, how will government convince the general public to get the shots?
Impact on Staffing
It is not clear how many health care workers have left their jobs for refusal to get the COVID-19 vaccination. According to an October 6 Fierce Healthcare article, thousands of hospitals now order workers to get the shots and thousands appear to have said “no.”
The mandates are causing a dilemma for hospitals. “As a practical matter, this policy may result in exacerbating the severe workforce shortage problems that currently exist,” said Rick Pollack, the CEO of the American Hospital Association, in a statement on September 9.
Spectrum Health in Michigan appears to be sensitive to the shortage concern. According to The Detroit News on September 9, it will grant temporary exemptions to those who can prove natural immunity to COVID-19. A Google search on October 7 showed no other hospitals offering such an exemption.
Hossfeld Cuzman is not sure how her employer, Tucson Medical Center in Tucson, Arizona can afford to lose health care workers. “They were 100 nurses short prior to their mandate and I know the last time I looked, it was 164 vacant nursing positions,” she said. “If this was a true pandemic, and they were worried about a nursing shortage, they wouldn’t be firing nurses for making personal decisions about their health.”
Tucson Medical Center did not respond to an email inquiry.
The hospital told Hossfeld Cuzman she would no longer get paid if she didn’t show COVID-19 vaccine proof by September 15. Hossfeld Cuzman requested an exemption in a two-page letter in which she had to divulge private health care information.
“Before a vaccine is ever recommended for use, it’s tested in labs. This process can take several years. FDA (Food and Drug Administration) uses the information from these tests to decide whether to test the vaccine with people,” wrote Hossfeld Cuzman.
The FDA granted the COVID-19 vaccines emergency use authorization after several months, not years of testing. Pfizer and BioNTech’s Comirnaty vaccine (the brand name for its COVID-19 vaccine) received full regulatory approval in September and weeks later, many employer vaccine mandates went into effect, including the federal government’s order for federal workers to get vaccinations.
Hossfeld Cuzman’s letter further pointed out there is no long-term safety data for people like her with autoimmune disorders. “How can the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommend (the vaccine) with no safety data?” she wrote.
The hospital made no exception in her case. According to Hossfeld Cuzman, age 63, there were only three conditions in which the hospital would grant a health care exemption, and autoimmune disorders were not one of them.
In her letter, Hossfeld Cuzman stated it has been unsettling that a number of colleagues have cared for people who suffered severe side effects from the vaccines. She wrote that she was willing to follow the I-MASK+Prophylaxis and early Outpatient Treatment Protocol to avoid getting the virus and would comply with twice-weekly testing. The hospital would only allow testing for employees who received exemptions.
Fired or Quit?
Hossfeld Cuzman, who worked for three years in the hospital’s pediatric endocrinology clinic, has filed a claim for unemployment benefits but it is unclear whether her former employer will challenge that.
“I had a conversation with someone from the Arizona unemployment office. She asked me if I thought it was fair that I lost my job,” said Hossfeld Cuzman. “I told her some people were granted exemptions. I was not privy to that information they submitted but it sounds like [certain] people were picked and chosen as to who would not be cut. I don’t think it was fair. Even not allowing other medical conditions, what is that? I don’t have that much faith in their decision-making.”
Forcing employees to take medical action sets a dangerous precedent for a number of reasons, says Twila Brase, R.N., the president of the Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom and policy advisor to The Heartland Institute, which co-publishes Health Care News.
“Any and all rationale given for terminating those who refuse the Covid injection is not based on science or human rights,” said Brase. “COVID-19 is not dangerous to most people, and the injection does not stop people from getting or transmitting the virus. The political precedent that’s being set with this injection mandate is dangerous, not only for individual freedom and the right to make personal medical decisions but also for Americans that may suffer short-term or long-term reactions to the injection and for patients who need medical care.”
AnneMarie Schieber (email@example.com) is the managing editor of Health Care News.
“My Job or the Jab – One Nurse’s Story (Guest: Nancy Hossfeld Cuzman),” The Heartland Daily Podcast, October 7, 2021.