BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. – A group of healthcare workers held a protest Wednesday evening across the street from United Hospital Center in Bridgeport.

Former and current healthcare workers hold up signs to protest the mandating of COVID-19 vaccines among healthcare workers

The group was protesting the mandate for COVID-19 vaccines, which was put in place by several north central West Virginia medical groups, including WVU Medicine.

The group, made up of some current and former UHC employees, wanted to stress that it is not against the vaccine, but it is against mandating it for healthcare workers.

“This mandate…it’s causing a lot of good, hardworking, honest employees to be forced out, fired and forced out of their job,” said Heidi James, a registered nurse at Bridgeport Endocrinology.

“We’ve made a choice that the vaccine is not right for us. [That] doesn’t mean it’s not right for everybody, but it’s not right for us. We’re being coerced. We’re being bribed. We’re being forced to take a vaccine that we’ve made a medical decision isn’t appropriate for us,” said Michelle Cross, an unemployed registered nurse who is unable to find work due to her vaccination status.

United Hospital Center sent the following statement in an email to 12 News:

“We respect people’s rights to express their feelings and opinions on this topic, but a public health crisis demands a public health response.  Our providers are on the frontlines caring for the people in this community; we cannot have them sidelined due to COVID as doing so jeopardizes patient care.  The FDA-approved vaccine, which hundreds of millions of Americans have received, is safe and effective.”

Matt Chisler, Director of Public Relations