GOSHEN — Three veteran nurses who were fired from IU Health Goshen Hospital for refusing to take flu shots are getting national attention.
Since their story appeared in The Elkhart Truth and on Michiana news stations, Joyce Gingerich, Sue Schrock and Ethel Hoover have made their rounds on major network television shows and nationally aired radio programs. The nurses, along with five other employees, were dismissed from their jobs in late December after the hospital introduced a new requirement for staff, volunteers and vendors to receive flu vaccinations.
“This whole thing, it is strange,” said Schrock, who was a hospice nurse at the hospital. “I’m not used to this publicity. I’m just a quiet person in Goshen, Ind., and it’s just really unusual for me.”
Schrock and Gingerich, who both cited religious reasons for refusing the vaccines, were whisked away in a black town car to Chicago early Thursday morning where they appeared on “Fox and Friends,” a morning news show on the Fox News Channel. Anchor Alisyn Camerota talked to them about their stance on flu shots and why they were both fired from their jobs. Schrock and Gingerich have been asked return to the show’s weekend broadcast for a second interview that is expected to air at 7:20 a.m. today, Jan. 6.
Gingerich was nervous about being interviewed live on television but said she is happy the issue is drawing attention.
“We want to get the whole picture out there because the hospitals and other health organizations are only giving us one message, and it’s far from complete,” said Gingerich, an oncology nurse who worked at IU Health Goshen Hospital on and off since 1987. “People should know the other side of it.”
Hoover, who did a phone interview with an ABC News reporter based in New York, said she worries that if nothing is done soon, flu shots won’t be mandatory just for hospital employees.
“Right now it’s health care workers, but later, it might be a requirement for the public,” said Hoover, who was a critical care nurse. “Our whole thrust behind this is to make the public aware of the issue. If we can make good come out of this, it was worth the trauma of going through and getting fired for it.”
Almost a week after their story first came to light, the nurses are still getting calls from media outlets interested in interviewing them, including the Associated Press and NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams. CNN and Fox News have also discussed their story on air.
The past few days have been hectic but worth it, Schrock said.
“We hope that religious rights will be forthcoming for those who ask for it in the future,” she said. “Our goal is not to get our jobs back. Our goal is for rights to be given to the future people who are requesting this.”