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Nurses take legal action against QMG and Blessing over state vaccination, testing order

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QUINCY (WGEM) -- Eleven nurses have taken legal action against Quincy Medical Group and Blessing Health System over the state's order that healthcare workers either be vaccinated against COVID-19 or tested weekly for the virus.

Attorney Thomas DeVore of Greenville, Illinois, filed Monday a motion for an emergency temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction along with a petition for declaratory relief and writ of injunction against both QMG and Blessing.

The petition and motion were filed on behalf of Blessing staff members Velvet Darnell, Julina Kirby, Rebecca Bliefnick, Jennifer Hermann, Rosalba McCoy and Alisa Leckbee, and QMG staff members Mary McNally, William Blackford, Kim Norton, Brandi Ruzich, and Sarah Knight.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced on August 26 an executive order that required all healthcare workers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine or be tested weekly for the virus.

The order initially required workers to get their first dose of the vaccine by September 5. On September 3, he extended that deadline to September 19.

In his court filings, DeVore states that being vaccinated or tested for the Coronavirus violates his client's moral conscience.

DeVore goes on to allege that the governor's order does not constitute a law.

He also cites Illinois' Influenza Vaccine Law which became effective in 2018 and requires healthcare workers to get the flu vaccine, with some opt-out options. DeVore states if the Illinois legislature saw fit to create a similar law for coronavirus it would have done so.

Blessing and QMG both declined interview requests by WGEM News.

Maureen Kahn

In a written statement, Blessing President and CEO Maureen Kahn said, “Blessing Health System respects and supports the rights of people to express their opinions peacefully and legally.  It is important to understand that there is no COVID vaccine mandate for Blessing Health System employees. 

The health system is complying with State of Illinois requirements that healthcare workers in certain settings be vaccinated or be tested weekly for COVID. The choice belongs to the employee. Blessing values its employees and does not want to see anyone leave the organization.

The health system has been and will continue to be transparent with employees, explaining what is being asked of them, why it is being asked and what they must do to remain in compliance.

Devore told WGEM Wednesday night that Blessing can't "get off the hook that easy" and businesses like hospitals should, instead, stand up to Gov. Pritzker's order.

The Adams County Circuit Clerk's office stated a judge will hear the case Thursday at 1:30 p.m.

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Jim Roberts

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