NC healthcare workers protest Atrium, Novant Health COVID vaccine mandate


SHELBY, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – Signs that read ‘force isn’t freedom’ and ‘natural immunity works’ caught the attention of drivers passing by Atrium Health Cleveland hospital on Sunday.

Healthcare workers protested a vaccine mandate set in place by administrators at Atrium and Novant Health.

Ramano Smith is a retired nurse who quit her job after more than 40 years because of the mandate. She says medical leaders haven’t given healthcare workers a choice about it and she has concerns about the data surrounding the vaccines and how it could impact pregnant women or women who are lactating.

“The concerns are, it’s not scientifically proven yet to be safe,” Smith said. “This is a real parting point about our rights as human beings and Americans and nurses, we are probably one of the most informed groups to make that decision.”

Atrium workers protest in Charlotte against mandatory vaccines for employees

It’s an emotional debate for Candance Elmore and Carissa Sisk who aren’t against people getting the vaccine but say they wish it were a choice for them. For the last 11 years, they have been advocating for patients. Right now they’re fighting for their own rights.

“I love my patients. And what breaks my heart the most is to think about the job loss of these good nurses, once we all leave because we aren’t getting the vaccine.” 

Inga Kish is an administrator with Atrium Health and says employees have until the end of the month to get the vaccine. She says resources have been provided to help with the decision.

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Novant Health is giving employees until September 15th to get theirs.

“We empathize with them. But we’re here to educate. And ultimately, we hope that everyone who works here will receive that vaccination,” Kish said. “Physicians take an oath to first do no harm, but also they take that oath to do everything within their power to take care of their patients.”

Healthcare workers can decline to get the shot based on religious beliefs or if they have a disability.

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