Port Alberni residents petition for unvaxed doctor to keep working at hospital

Port Alberni residents petition for unvaxed doctor to keep working at hospital

An Alberni Valley pediatrician is no longer allowed to work inside West Coast General Hospital.

Dr. Chris McCollister, one of only two pediatricians in the community, lost his right to work at the hospital because he’s not vaccinated for COVID-19.

“My whole stance, like many doctors, has been giving people information, and then they make the decision, whether that’s medication for their body or vaccine whatever,” said McCollister. “I truly believe in that. To not be able to have my own decision for my body has been really really tough.”

McCollister says that decision has been stripped from him and the thousands of other B.C. health care workers who don’t want one of the current COVID-19 vaccines.

“I’m not against vaccines. I’m for multiple treatments including early home treatment that we’re just not hearing about,” he said.

The pediatrician can no longer help with care at the hospital, which is much of what he does including emergency cases such as cesarean sections to suicidal teens.

A petition has been started questioning how removing McCollister’s hospital privileges improves care, in a community that already struggles to attract doctors and specialists.

It’s already been signed by more than 3,200 people.

“I don’t think that’s right. It’s his personal choice if he wants to get that vaccination or not,” said Jennifer Busby, who is double vaxxed herself.

Busby says McCollister’s care saved her son when he was in his teens.

“Our town is losing one of its best pediatricians by them locking him out of the hospital,” said Busby.

The province’s top doctor has maintained health care workers’ need to get vaccinated.

“If people are in our health care system are not recognizing the importance of vaccination then this is probably not the right profession for them,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry an update on Nov. 1.

McCollister claims he’s had every other vaccination including his flu shot for this year. However, he is concerned about the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines, saying they haven’t changed even though the virus is changing.

McCollister believes 25 to 30 staff at West Coast General are in the same position.

“This isn’t about me. It’s the bigger picture. We’ve just lessened a number of small teams and it’s really putting a lot of pressure on our small hospital.”

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Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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