By William Patrick
More than 80 healthcare professionals are suing two hospital chains in Louisiana over the health systems’ COVID-19 vaccination mandates for employees.
Both lawsuits contain similar allegations and were brought by attorney Jimmy Faircloth in the 15th District Court in Lafayette. Faircloth once served as director of former governor Bobby Jindal.
The plaintiffs in the health service are seeking temporary and permanent injunctions against the vaccine mandates as well as declaratory sentences against Ochsner Lafayette General Medical Center and Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center.
Ochsner Lafayette General is Southern Louisiana’s largest regional health care system with more than 4,500 employees across the flagship Ochsner Lafayette General Medical Center and six separately owned or managed hospital companies.
The Ochsner case claims that citizens of Louisiana have “a fundamental right to decide whether or not to seek medical treatment” as outlined in state constitution, state law, and court decisions regarding informed consent and invasion of privacy.
The lawsuit also alleges scientific allegations that COVID-19 vaccines do not prevent virus transmission.
“There is no longer any serious argument that mandate vaccines will prevent transmission or eradicate the disease as previously alleged,” the lawsuit reads. “Nevertheless, Defendants seek to compel plaintiffs and others to be vaccinated against COVID-19 over their personal objections and without taking into account their uniquely well-informed understanding of the virus and its treatment options.
“In the best possible light, these hospital mandates are a deceptive effort to participate in a public health crusade by forcing private sector employees to undergo medical treatment for their own good and the public good.”
The legal complaint against Our Lady Lourdes Regional Medical Center reflects the basic allegations against Ochsner, including breach of “natural immunity” obtained from previous COVID-19 infection.
Our Lady Lourdes Regional Medical Center is part of the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System, one of the largest in Louisiana.
The hospital chain adopted its system-wide vaccine mandate on 3 August. All employees, contractors, study clinics and volunteers require full vaccination by 1 December.
Doctors, medical assistants and nurses must present proof of vaccination by 31 October or be suspended without pay. If they are not completely unvaccinated by November 30, they will be fired according to the policy.
“The Lourdes vaccination mandate allows for medical and religious exemptions, but does not provide a clear deadline for submission,” the lawsuit states. “Rather, the instructions are vague at best and deliberately evasive to deter use at worst.”
In response, the Lourdes Regional Medical Center issued a statement saying it “values all its team members and respects their rights.”
“Our Lady of Lourdes maintains her vaccination policy, which we believe is in accordance with the law and appropriate to the circumstances,” the statement said.
Ochsner Lafayette General’s public response said: “Employees with medical and religious objections may submit exemption or deferral requests, which are individually and thoroughly reviewed by a panel of experts.
“We continue to serve as a source of truth and provide ongoing resources, training and vaccination opportunities to our employees and the community.”
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