Spotlight falls on IU Health for flu shot firings

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Indiana University Health got national attention last week for its decision to fire eight employees for refusing to get a flu vaccination.

The Indianapolis-based hospital system dismissed three nurses and five other employees from its IU Health Goshen Hospital, which sparked a raft of stories from state and national media.

ABC News posted a lengthy piece about the decision on its website Thursday. It featured IU Health nurse Ethel Hoover, who ended a nearly 22-year career at Goshen Hospital over IU Health’s new mandatory flu shot policy.

"This is my body. I have a right to refuse the flu vaccine," said Hoover, 61, who wore all black on her last day of work to mourn her dismissal. "For 21 years, I have religiously not taken the flu vaccine, and now you're telling me that I believe in it."

Fellow IU Health nurse Kacy Davis said she and her colleagues were "horrified" over Hoover's firing, calling her their "go-to" nurse.

“Your body has its natural responses to fight off certain viruses and infections, and if you continually inoculate your body with something that’s not even guaranteed from preventing you from getting it, why would you do it?” Hoover told the Elkhart Truth newspaper. Flu shots are effective about 60 percent of the time, according to statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

IU Health said its mandate, instituted in September, is meant to improve patient safety. Hospital patients often already have compromised health, and so many may be more vulnerable to the flu.

"IU Health's top priority is the health and well-being of our patients," said hospital spokeswoman Whitney Ertel. "Participation in the annual Influenza Patient Safety Program is a condition of employment with IU Health for the health and safety of the patients that we serve, and is therefore required."

Of IU Health’s 26,000 employees, all but 500 complied. The hospital system says it anticipates 175 terminations in all as a result of the new policy.

Two other nurses also were fired by IU Health after they refused to take the flu shots and IU Health denied their request for exemptions based on medical needs or religious beliefs.

“I feel like in my personal faith walk, I have felt instructed not to get a flu vaccination,” former IU Health nurse Joyce Gingerich told the Elkhart Truth. “But it’s also the whole matter of the right to choose what I put in my body and what I feel God wants me to put in versus someone mandating what I put in. It is a very big issue for me.”

Former nurse Sue Schrock told the Elkhart newspaper there are other ways to stay healthy besides a flu shot, like taking natural vitamins, eating well and exercising. The last time she had a flu shot was about 30 years ago.

“I just learned more and more about natural healing,” Schrock said. “We’ve been using natural products for a good 20 years, and that’s the way we believe healing takes place.”



  • pharmaceutical double dipping
    If a patient has the right to refuse, then so should a healthcare worker. I agree with another reader in that anyone who walks into the hospital COULD be a vector, but no one is asking to see if they have had the flu shot. The flu hype is a complete fraud. Call it pharmaceutical double dipping. 60 percent effective, which means you will most likely still get the flu, and be contagious. $40 for the shot, and then all the otc medications generates a lot of money for the pharmaceuticals. Government sleeps with the pharmaceutical industry. A pay back for all that generous campaign contributions putting their politician in Congress. If the government REALLY cared about stopping the transmission of the flu, then why not have a TV campaign outlying proper hand washing techniques, proper nutrition, coughing into your elbow, wiping down surface areas contaminated; rest, and exercise. The very fact that they have not started a campaign of educating the public further backs up my theory of profits over factual evidence. I am a RN in the icu. I did not take the flu shot. Use some common sense here. Don't buy into the fear that the pharmaceutical and Government are propagating.
  • Troubling question
    Although Indiana is a "fire at will" state, this may not apply, but......... as I understand it, people can be given exemptions for religious belief against a flu shot, but NOT for non-religious beliefs against it. This would seem to be an agnostic's civil rights issue.
  • Flu Shots
    I do not want to be treated by a nurse who isn't vaccinated for influenza.
  • It goes both ways
    Mr Kellogg if u think healthcare workers should be required to have the flu vaccination because they might pose a risk to a patient then every visitor, sales or pharmacy rep and even other patients pose the same risk to the healthcare provider. Truth be known... Healthcare providers are more likely to contract something from the patient instead of vice versa. The major point is that it is taking away another right. We are told to wear our seatbelts what kind of oil to cook our food in, whether we can allow smoking in a privately owned business etc. where will it ever stop. You already have to give them a blood sample to get insurance.
  • Mythology and Mindless Faith?
    Sorry...here is the link. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/11/06/flu-vaccine-efficacy.aspx
  • Mythology and Mindless Faith?
    Some science for you....mindless faith and mythology...really? Ask any practitioner to guarantee that the flu shot...or any shot for that matter, will not cause you harm...and 100% of them will not give you that guarantee.
    • change the focus
      I believed they missed the boat on this one. Flu prevention is important -but MRSA is much more deadly. CDC indicates flu-associated deaths ranged from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) there were estimated 94,360 MRSA infections (invasive) in the US with approx. 18,650 deaths. Other organizations estimate the true numbers to be over one million infected in the US with MRSA and over 100,00 deaths. US hospitals use ICD9 coding and many MRSA infections were not included in statistics. 85% of all invasive MRSA infections were from healthcare facilities with patients contracting infections after their stay ( two-thirds) and one-third while in the facility. This is preventable - persona hygein and clean healthcare facilities. I believe if insurance campanies and patients refused to pay for hospital aquired MRSA - it would go away very fast. http://www.mrsasurvivors.org/statistics http://www.cdc.gov/mrsa/prevent/healthcare/precautions.html#standard
    • Choices
      We all make choices in our life and the choices we make determine our path. If one wants to work in the healing science industry, one should be dedicated to the science and reason of that industry. If the science says that vaccinated healthcare workers create a more favorable environment for patient care, it makes sense that the employer requires vaccination of its healthcare employees as rule number one is to not expose patients to increased harm. If one chooses to rely upon mythology and mindless faith to the exclusion of science they probably do not belong in the healing sciences.

      Post a comment to this story

      We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
      You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
      Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
      No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
      We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

      Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

      Sponsored by

      facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

      Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
      Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
      Subscribe to IBJ
      1. Good Day I am Mr (Victoria Wright) from United state of America, i stayed in NEW YORK, and i have a broke up business, until i found this company email who help me to gain a loan for business,, and now i want to used this short medium to congratulate the below company for the fast and safe money they loan to me without any form of collateral, i loan 500,000USD from the company to save my business and lots more, i saw their mail on the internet, everyone always give testimony for what they did, so i quickly contacted them and they all did everything for me without stress and my money was sent to my account just 3 days later, i was surprise and i feel so glad, now i have a standard business control agent who help me, now i will advice those who need urgent loan to contact him at the bellow email:zenithfirm12@gmail.com

      2. NOTICE:This is to inform the general public that Vampires are real. My name is James Franklyn.,am an agent of vampire,am here to introduce our new world trend to you,a world of vampire where life get easier,we have made so many persons vampires and have turned them rich,you will be assured long life and prosperity,you shall be made to be very sensitive to mental alertness,stronger and also very fast,you will not be restricted to walking at night only even at the very middle of broad day light you will be made to walk.In case you are wildly oppressed by some unscrupulous persons we can still help you fight them.Your protection is assured immediately you join.Just contact the bellow email if you are interested we are here to attend to you anytime you want us. Contact the bellow email for more details. Email:vampirescreed@hotmail.com Sincerely: James Franklyn.

      3. Bravo! Someone else that is willing to speak the truth! Bravo!_____NBCSN is available in almost 2 MILLION more homes than just a few years ago, but Indycar STILL gets less total viewers than it did just a few years ago when NBC took over Versus. Attendance and ratings cratered with the end of season races (just when the title battle got "interesting" HAH!__________And now...new race in Basilia, where Miles celebrated the "rich history" of Indycar racing there. Rich history? What, 7 events in the 100 years of AOW? Yep, some history. Well, at least its an oval. It's not??? Are you kidding me??? Gosh darn road racin furriners.

      4. PURITY RAY LOAN OFFER........ Have you been denied by your banks,or are you in need of of an urgent loan to pay of your bills we are capable of giving loans @ cheaper rate to interested individuals, student, companies and members of the public in need of finance to settle bills, we do offer considerable loans which you can count on. For more information on our various types of loan,then you will have to contact PURITY RAY LOAN FIRM, to help you achieve your desire LOAN APPLICATION FORM TO BE FILLED BORROWERS INFORMATION * Full name:………………………. * SEX * ……………………………. * Country………………………….. * State:……………………………. * Land:…………………………….. * Occupation:…………………….. * phone number:…………………. * Telephone: ………………………….. * Age:………………………………. * Amount needed as loan:……… * Loan Duration:………………….. * Propose of Loan:……………….. * Annual revenue:………………… * Monthly Income:……………….. * Guarantee:………………………. * Payment: monthly or annually Email.....purityrayloanfirm@gmail.com Thank you and God bless Mr Purity Ray PURITY RAY LOAN FIRM we tend to serve you better

      5. Problem: most of the people responding to this article don't know about this service AT ALL! Why? Lack of awareness. This isn't IndyGo. This is CIRTA: might as well be the mattress company because they are asleep at the wheel - something like 3 directors over the last year? Playing with federal grant money is great! This "region" wants commuter rail service, has spent MILLIONS on Transportation studies yet can't even support a commuter bus line? This is largely for suburban riders to get to downtown - not for "service people to work in our hotels and restaurants" ! Get your head out of your backside!! These are professionals, students etc. that don't want to fight traffic, save some money on parking, gas, stress.... if CIRTA would put their federal money into widely promoting the sevive to Greenwood, Fishers & Carmel instead of finding directors and studies - this would be a successful service. Our family uses(d) it daily for the last several years - but the recent uncertainty & now unreliability due to cuts from Carmel has been a problem. Now, costs us an additional $350/month for gas & parking ( $4200/year) plus vehicle wear, service, environmental impact ... YES - this REGION needs this this type of service in order to keep growing and getting the people it needs to fill skilled positions in downtown Indianapolis. Think outside of your own car !!!