Reporter/ anchor Kaitlin Stansell of WCSC TV 5 (CBS – Charleston, S.C.) has gotten hold of what is shaping up to be a major scandal for the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) – one which could easily prompt a flood of lawsuits against this government-run entity.
Over the weekend, I penned a column alerting my readers to the fact that MUSC was firing employees for failing to comply with a system-wide Covid-19 vaccination mandate. Specifically, five employees were fired from the taxpayer-funded, politically managed bureaucracy after they refused to receive their vaccinations prior to a June 30, 2021 deadline.
Stansell reported on these terminations several weeks ago, and has been doggedly following up on the issue ever since.
As I noted in my coverage, MUSC’s vaccination mandate appears to run afoul of an explicit ban on such measures implemented by the S.C. General Assembly last month … although there is extensive debate in Columbia, S.C. as to whether this ban will wind up holding water.
MUSC has been one of several state agencies seemingly eager to test the limits of multiple temporary Covid-19 regulations passed by the S.C. General Assembly. These tests have come as various government entities seek to address the latest strain of the virus (a highly contagious variant which has caused a spike in new cases and hospitalizations). State lawmakers approved these regulations as part of the 2021-2022 state budget – although it is unclear whether any of the temporary edicts are enforceable given their “less than precise language.”
“Inartful” wording and narrowly drawn definitions appear to limit the scope and applicability of the edits, rendering the intent of the legislature in imposing a ban on mask mandates or so-called “vaccine passports” murky at best.
One thing is crystal clear, though: If “Republicans” had hoped to impose a statewide ban on mask mandates or “vaccination passports” across all political subdivisions of the state, they failed miserably.
That should surprise no one given lawmakers’ track record … and the fact they were apparently busy this year with other “priorities” (ahem).
MUSC, however, is not challenging the S.C. General Assembly on the letter of the law … at least not yet.
Instead, as Stansell has uncovered, the health care provider is backpedaling furiously – claiming it didn’t actually fire its employees for refusing the vaccine after all.
Wait … what?
That’s right. According to emails obtained by Stansell, MUSC is claiming that “upon further review” its terminations were based on “other issues” – which the institution insists are unrelated to these employees’ refusal to get vaccinated.
“Separating individuals from our organization in relation to any policy at MUSC Health is always a last resort,” Montez Seabrook, MUSC’s public information coordinator wrote in an email to Stansell last Friday. “Upon further review, it has been determined that there were multiple reasons for the separation of those five individuals and that noncompliance with the Covid vaccine policy was only one concern.”
So … what did these employees do?
Not surprisingly, the hospital is refusing to say …
“While we can’t get into details due to confidentiality concerns, we can tell you that these five individuals would have been separated from the organization if the pandemic had never happened given these other issues of noncompliance with other standard MUSC Health policies,” Seabrook continued in his email to Stansell.
Pressing MUSC officials, Stansell asked whether there was “a reason they weren’t fired until (after) the Covid vaccine policy” took effect.
The answer? According to the school, it was purely coincidental.
“The wheels were already turning on their separations and the timing also happened to coincide with the deadline for the vaccine policy,” MUSC director of public affairs Heather Woolwine wrote in response to Stansell’s question.
RELATED | SC Senators Ask Health Agency To Justify Hospital Regulations
As I noted in my coverage of this developing situation over the weekend, MUSC is “currently engaged in another, far more existential struggle … participating in yet another government blitzkrieg against the free market (or what’s left of it) in the Palmetto State.”
Just this morning, in fact, reporter Noah Feit of The (Columbia, S.C.) State newspaper reported that MUSC was renaming four Midlands-area hospitals it obtained as part of a dubious deal approved by a five-member panel of state political leaders last week. Not only that, these political leaders approved $80 million in new taxpayer debt to subsidize the purchase.
No public discussion was allowed on either vote …
Previously, lawmakers blocked the sale of these hospitals to private sector provider Prisma Health, raising all sorts of questions about whether they were rigging the game for MUSC.
“MUSC is currently pursuing multiple expansions across South Carolina which are putting its facilities in direct competition with various private sector providers,” I wrote earlier this week. “Oh, and the taxpayer-funded institution is doing so at a time when government is unnecessarily hamstringing those private sector providers.”
Anyone care to guess how this is going to end? Look no further than other private sector functions usurped by state government … including government-run utility Santee Cooper and the state-run port of Charleston.
Stay tuned … MUSC Is very much back on my radar, and will be for the foreseeable future as I look to uncover the truth about its Covid-19 firings as well as legislative enabling of its market-distorting activities.
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