No swab, no job

THE CASE

Some health care workers in Ticino have been fired because they refused to accept the vaccine and also refused the saliva test - Paolo Ferrari: « Whoever works with patients has a duty to be immunized» - Fabio Maestrini: «We lacked the political courage to impose the obligation».

No swab, no job

No swab, no job

This was perhaps predictable, but certainly something that cannot leave you feeling indifferent. As of earlier this month, non-vaccinated healthcare workers must undergo extensive testing of their saliva in order to work in the industry. And while the vast majority of them are vaccinated, and a good portion of them regularly undergo the tests, a small portion has chosen to oppose this measure ordered by the State Council. The result is clear: the first dismissals began in Ticino during these days in respect of operators who, not having been vaccinated, have also decided not to undergo salivary tests.

A clear split

Cases of this type, however, are expected to be very contained in Ticino. Fewer than a dozen, as RSI reported yesterday. Two, for example, worked at the Clinica Luganese Moncucco. «I believe there are essentially two potential readings of this,« director of the establishment Christian Camponovo explained to us. «On the one hand, there is probably those who wanted to come out of hiding in order to see just exactly how much can be done to go against the provision established by the Canton. But on the other hand, this situation has sadly turned into a bit of a religious war. We can also see it in the rest of society: there’ s a clear split». Luckily, however, « cases are very few compared to those who do respect the rules». For instance, he continues, «in our organization 90% of the staff is vaccinated, while the other 10% is tested without problems».

Concerns that in the healthcare sector there are those who reject science

But what worries Camponovo is that «in the health sector there are people who reject science, who contest measures that are based on scientific data». Indeed, because to refuse a simple saliva test, continues the director, «is a bit like refusing to give an antibiotic to a patient, when one knows that that medicine is effective». If a health operator thinks he can decide what is right or wrong, against science, this attitude can become dangerous, particularly for the patient. We cannot let our patients run this risk». On the whole, Camponovo concludes, «I find this situation sad. It was also a hard decision for us, as is the case whenever one has to part with a collaborator. However, there was no alternative.

A message of responsibility

While the Moncucco Clinic has had to resort to two layoffs, there has also been some concern on the public health front. «A certain number of employees had expressed their discomfort after the guidelines introduced by the Canton, but despite this, for the moment the adhesion has been good,« explains Paolo Ferrari, head of the medical area of the Cantonal Hospital Authority (EOC). « Only in a few situations have we needed to insist with employees that they get tested. However, so far, we have not gone so far as to have to take disciplinary measures against the people - a couple of them - who are reluctant to do so». The concern, however, highlights Ferrari, «is that at the EOC we have approximately 700 health workers who are in contact with patients who are not vaccinated and, therefore, must be tested twice a week. It is therefore important and appropriate to reinforce and convey a message of responsibility: those who work with patients have a duty to get immunized».

Original sin

Even when it comes to nursing homes, the situation remains very delicate. It is delicate because the guests are naturally more at risk, due to their age, perhaps because of pre-existing pathologies. Fabio Maestrini, director of the Social Institutes of Chiasso, member of the umbrella association ADiCASI, has encountered only one case of this kind in his facility, a non-vaccinated employee who did not want to undergo a swab.

«The justification? Nothing in particular. And there was nothing we could do, since we couldn’t make her work, except to suspend her, without pay. So what will happen in the future, I don’t know.» Currently, the association has not received reports of individual cases. But it doesn’t mean, as Maestrini’s testimony shows, that the individual institutions are not dealing with the above cases. As Ferrari points out, Maestrini goes further in his reasoning: «I do believe that the original mistake is linked to the fact that we have not been brave enough, in the health and social services sector, especially in homes for the elderly, to state that those who work there must be vaccinated. All the rest are accommodations due to the lack of political boldness, of a dramatic decision».

Political intent?

«It’ s about people who are not only unvaccinated, but also refuse the tampon. A position that would appear to be dictated by the will to create a case history regarding dismissals of this type», says the trade unionist of VPOD, Raoul Ghisletta. But that’ s not all. Ghisletta also points out that « it is not a matter of people who have acted through the union, but in an autonomous way with their own lawyers, with the political intent to challenge the COVID Law». Now, the unionist continues, « being faced with dismissal, will follow all the appropriate channels: in this particular case there is a CCL which provides the right to appeal, either to the Joint Committee, or directly through the civil justice. «It seems to me, however, a shame - he concludes - that it has come to this point, considering also the shortage of nursing staff at this time».

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