So apparently, I’m still employed.
After updating you last week, (I sound like a soap opera – and this week on Write From Karen), I went to work that following Monday. I was dreading it. Like, DREADING it. Largely because I was going to see Dr. M and his mid-level H in clinic that day and I didn’t know if they knew I had put my resignation in. I didn’t want to have the conversation, quite frankly, and I was hoping they heard all about it and I wouldn’t need to say anything, but at the same time, I felt like I needed to say something.
The day started as usual. We only saw recheck and post-op patients last week because Dr. M is going to be out these next few weeks to recover from his surgery so I knew it was going to be an easy day, and it was. But if felt tense. I tried my best to paste on a happy face and just sort of pretend that I was never going to see these people again after September 29th, but it was hard.
Another girl that I work with, M, was going through the same thing. She also submitted her resignation but her last day was going all the way to the deadline on October 15th so she had a ways to go. I took advantage of a little break between patients and went to her office to blow off steam. She hadn’t been in the office the Friday I announced to the clinic I was quitting though I did text her. I plopped down in the chair next to her and after a few dozen words, M says to me, “I submitted an appeal and they approved it.”
“I’m sorry, come again?”
“I talked to a friend of mine and she suggested that I submit an appeal making sure to include a few keywords in my submission and I did that on Thursday. I heard back from them on Friday and they approved my appeal.”
I just sort of sat there and stared at her for a few minutes. I was seriously shocked. I honestly had NO expectations for the hospital to approve ANY exemptions and yet, they approved hers. My wheels immediately started turning. Could I do the same? Would they accept mine? Did I want to try? Why wouldn’t I try? Did I dare allow myself to hope?
I asked M to send me what she put on her form. It wouldn’t hurt to see what she submitted, right? And what were these magical keywords she spoke of?
Now, before you go and think I’m a sneaky b*tch, because, I sort of am, using keywords to get what you want is not a novel concept. Whenever I was a scheduler I would have to contact insurance companies to try and get diagnostic testing approved and before long, I figured out they were looking for keywords, or phrases, something that would trigger their process into giving me an approval. I wouldn’t make things up, that’s dishonest and illegal, but if there was any hint of a condition or a diagnosis, in the doctor’s note you better believe I took advantage of that and used it.
Since we were still in clinic, I couldn’t stay in her office very long to talk to her about what she did in too much detail and I needed a moment to digest what she told me. I went back out to the clinic and it took everything I had to force myself to focus on the task at hand. But as soon as I got M’s email, I immediately sent it to Kevin and said, “What do you think? Should I try this?”
He helped me compile what I wanted to say because honestly, I was in clinic and didn’t have the time to devote to it and time was of the essence now that my employment clock was ticking, and by the end of the day, I had taken what he had given me, finessed it up a bit, took out some aggressive language, (because Kevin has been even more fired up about this ordeal than I have been), and I submitted my appeal.
I was really hoping I would find out as fast as M did because again, the clock was ticking and I just wanted an answer so I could move on with whatever answer they gave me. But I had hope. Why would they approve M’s appeal but not mine? And if they didn’t approve mine, I was planning on marching my butt into my director’s office and asking him, “What gives?”
I told Dr. M that I was submitting an appeal, just to keep him in the loop, because I thought he might be wondering what was going on and then the director of Neurosciences approaches me after clinic and asks if I have a minute.
Normally, I would be swallowing hard and wondering what I did wrong, but since I had submitted my resignation, I honestly didn’t care. Do what you want – I have one foot out the door anyway.
But he was very sweet and told me he was really sorry to see me go and if I needed to use him as a reference, I was free to do so. I thought that was so nice of him to offer that! I told him that I submitted an appeal to my religious exemption request and he perked up a bit when I said that. We did talk about the consequences of having the exemption approved, which I’ll talk about in a bit, but they are consequences that I will be willing to do, if accepted.
Tuesday rolls around and I’m covering Dr. S’s clinic. I’m actually really glad I covered her clinic that day because it didn’t give me a lot of time to obsess about my appeal but I was on pins and needles all day waiting for an answer.
Clinic was winding down and it was about 1:00 PM when I got the email.
I was afraid to open it. This email would literally decide if I stayed or left. This email would decide my future in healthcare.
I clicked it open and quickly skimmed it.
I calmed down a bit and then re-read the letter in more detail:
Your request for exemption has been granted through August of 2022, or the date upon which______________ again considers requests for exemption from the Covid-19 vaccination policy. Please note that individuals will need to reapply for exemptions each year, unless otherwise determined by ___________.
Now that your exemption request has been approved, we will begin assessing what accommodations can be made for you to continue to work. Accommodations are determined on an individual basis and depend on several factors including the essential functions of a job, interaction with high-risk patient populations, and ability to work under varying levels of supervision.
In all accommodations, employees will be required to mask when on __________ property. Additional accommodations may include, but are not limited to, weekly nasal or saliva testing at ___________ expense; a change in work settings; possible work restrictions; and being moved to an alternative role if working with high-risk patients.
We will coordinate with your department director to determine your accommodation, after which we will mail you a notification confirming your accommodation. Because your exemption has been approved, you are not at risk of missing the October 15, 2021 deadline to be vaccinated.
Once you have been notified, your supervisor will be able to provide additional information to you regarding your specific accommodations. Please also pay careful attention to the Connect Daily, which may contain additional information regarding requirements for unvaccinated staff.
____________ reserves the right to take any necessary and appropriate steps, including but not limited to, imposing alternative COVID-19 prevention measures and accommodations, to ensure that individuals do not pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others in the workplace.
Okay. My approval has been granted through August of 2022. What does that mean, exactly? I’m reading it to mean they are thinking about mandating boosters. Or, yearly vaccinations, same as the flu vaccine. At any rate, I will need to re-apply each year. Annoying, but okay.
I do not work with high-risk patients so I don’t think I have to worry much about being moved to a different department. I work in an outpatient clinic. I’m assuming my “accommodations” will mean I will have to test weekly and wear a mask. We all wear masks at the hospital now as it is and quite honestly, I don’t see that going away any time soon so I’m not overly concerned about that, but the weekly testing will suck balls. But it’s still better than not having a job. And I was relieved to see the hospital will incur the cost of weekly testing. I was worried they were going to make me pay for it. I know some employers are penalizing their employees if they do not get vaccinated and have to be tested – like Delta airlines, actually. And the country of Italy says you can keep your job, but we’re not going to pay you. So, it could always be worse.
I forwarded the email to Kevin and then text him the good news. I’m honestly not sure if he’s happy or not. I think he has mixed feelings. He just wants me to be happy and not be treated like a 2nd class citizen or be discriminated against. I can appreciate that. And though this whole thing sucks, I DO get where the hospital is coming from, after all.
After texting Kevin, I went to our office to tell my nurse. I walked in, opened my arms and with a huge grin on my face said, “You need to hug me right now.”
“It was approved?”
And when I nodded she screamed, sprang from her chair and hugged me. I think she was as relieved as I was!
A HUGE weight was lifted from my shoulders. I knew I was under a lot stress but I don’t think I realized just how much until that email arrived and I could finally breathe again.
I. COULD. BREATHE. AGAIN.
I then went around the clinic and told everyone my appeal was approved and then went to speak to my manager to see what we could do to rescind the resignation.
(Spoiler alert: the hospital rescinded my resignation).
Wednesday, when I worked Dr. M’s clinic again, I told him that the hospital approved my appeal and that I would be there when he returned from his surgery. His reaction was underwhelming to say the least. I wasn’t expecting him to jump from his chair and pump a fist in the air, but a smirk, a nod, something would have been better than his “okay.”
Alrighty then. His lack of reaction hurt my feelings but I guess shame on me for thinking he would be glad that I was staying. I think he’s glad, I just think things are weird between us right now because he and I are not even remotely on the same page when it comes to this vaccine nonsense. In fact, none of my team are really on the same page as me, except for our medical secretary. I feel like the odd man out but I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. At any rate, it is what is and I still have a job, that’s all that really matters right now, I suppose.
So. It’s business as usual. I had to forfeit my vacation because it fell in my last two weeks and of course, you can’t take vacation during your final two weeks so I’m bummed that we weren’t able to go camping like we had planned. We couldn’t have gone anyway with Kevin’s truck being down for the count, but still, having some time off would have been nice. I plan on taking some time in November and we’ll likely go camping at that time. But I have to be careful with my vacation time because when I start my weekly COVID testing, if it comes back positive, I will be expected to be off work for about 10 days and I need to keep some vacation built up in case I need to use it for that reason. And the likelihood that it will come back positive is more than possible because remember the PCR tests are flawed and will be recalled at the end of year. So who knows how often I will be “positive.”
But we’ll see. For now, I’m taking one day at a time. I still have a job which is more than I can say for some other people and I’m grateful and thank God every day for looking out for us.
Now … let’s see if they accept my exemption request for the flu vaccine. And more importantly, how will I respond if they deny it?