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Give health care workers a choice, protestors say

Published: Sep. 23, 2021 at 5:50 AM EDT
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POTSDAM, New York (WWNY) - “The fact that you’re losing your chance to choose should scare everybody,” protestor Larry Ferguson said.

That was a common theme for protesters in Potsdam Wednesday evening. Some held up signs that read “Freedom Of Choice” and “Vaccine Choice For All.”

Others were there to support health care workers who are faced with a state-mandated September 27 deadline for being vaccinated against COVID.

“These are men and women who are being told they have to make a decision they don’t actually want to make,” Frontline Defense volunteer Liana Hull said. “They’re not conspiracy theorists.”

Hull says her husband is the director of the cancer center at Canton-Potsdam Hospital.

Ben Hull is reportedly resigning that post because the vaccine mandate does not allow for religious exemptions.

“I mean it’s going to be detrimental to our local health care if they all leave, which many of them are planning on doing,” Liana Hull said. “Whole departments will have to shut down, entire buildings.”

Lewis County Health System has already announced it’s putting its maternity unit on pause at the end of this week because of too many resignations.

One protester says he used to work in public health but doesn’t plan on going back into the industry because of the vaccine mandate.

“I’m not getting the vaccine,” Cole DeSantis said. “I don’t think it’s a healthy choice for me. I don’t feel safe with that decision.”

Ferguson says one of his friends left her job as a nurse at Canton-Potsdam Hospital after 47 years.

“You can’t replace that experience with somebody off the street,” he said.

Ferguson says he’s worried about hospitals having proper staffing and ultimately believes it comes down to a person’s right to choose.

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