INDIANAPOLIS — As the nursing shortage continues to grow across the country, Eskenazi Health is dealing with more openings.
A number of nurses with Eskenazi Health said they're out of a job because of vaccine mandates.
Adara Allen is one of those nurses. She said she felt like a hero working with coronavirus patients at Eskenazi Health. As of Monday, that's no longer the case. She said she was told she can't come to work after refusing to get vaccinated.
"It was very concrete. There was no working around it. It was like, 'this is how it is. You either quit or take the vaccine,'" said Allen.
Allen is pregnant. Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends pregnant women take the vaccine, she chose not to because her pregnancy is considered high-risk, and she has an issue with blood clots.
"If I lost another baby and I didn't know what it was from, I couldn't forgive myself," said Allen.
She received conflicting recommendations from two different doctors. She then decided to file a medical exemption with Eskenazi Health.
However, she said the exemption was denied, giving her no other option but to leave.
"It was hard knowing I was going to lose my health insurance being a high-risk pregnant person. It was hard for me knowing I was going to lose my retirement that I saved," said Allen.
Eskenazi nurse Sheila Burleson was also told to leave. She said after the year they had, she never saw this coming.
"We were needed. We played a big role in taking care of our patients. We put our lives in danger, we put consideration for ourselves aside to make sure these patients survive," said Burleson.
Eskenazi Health sent a statement to 13News. The health system said that requiring its staff to be fully vaccinated is its way of maintaining a safe and healthy workplace:
"In July, Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion County announced the decision to require COVID-19 vaccines for all employees, including those who work for the Marion County Public Health Department, Eskenazi Health, Indianapolis Emergency Medical Services (IEMS), and the division of Long Term Care.
Ensuring that all staff and providers get their vaccine is a critical step toward protecting the safety of our workforce, our patients and our community.
As of September 21, HHC employees who have chosen not to be vaccinated have been suspended pending a final review. When we have the final number of employees who have chosen to remain unvaccinated and have left the organization, we will share that information. We continue to urge everyone in our community to be vaccinated against COVID-19."
Allen said she doesn't understand how the workforce is safer if there are fewer nurses.
"We need nurses right now. We don't need to be separated and [kept] at home ... Nurses are short," Allen said. "When you are sick and dying, what's more important to me, 'are you vaccinated or not vaccinated?'"