LUBBOCK, Texas– A group of protestors gathered in front of University Medical Center Wednesday morning to exercise their rights and protest against President Biden’s vaccine mandate.

Dozens of nurses, doctors, and community members participated in the “Medical Freedom Protest.” They said they want the freedom to make their own medical decisions.

Rep. Dustin Burrows also attended and has been vocal about his stance on the mandate.

“I’m sympathetic to them as well,” Burrows said. “I mean, they have been put in between a rock and a hard place. They’re going to lose a lot of employees over this, which is going to potentially put patient safety, access and care in all sorts of different degrees of risk.” 

UMC said last week that it’s requiring all staff to be fully vaccinated by January 4th. Without compliance or an exemption, many could lose their jobs.

John Thomas, a surgeon in Lubbock who attended the protest said a lot of people worked throughout the beginning of the pandemic last year without the vaccine and with little knowledge of the virus. He wondered about the timing of this decision.

“Now you’re forcing them [and saying] they’ll lose their job?” Thomas questioned.

Some of the protestors were UMC employees, and several of them said they were not upset at their employer.

Courtnie Corder, a UMC employee, said she has loved working at UMC. She protested because she took an oath to protect her patients.

“It’s our job to protect our patients…  What’s going to happen to the community when 40% of our medical staff are out of the hospital?” Corder asked.

Dr. Eileen Sprys, a local family physician and former UMC employee, explained her stance.

“All the staff is asking [for] is the freedom to choose- to make our own medical decisions,” Sprys said, adding, “To lose 40% of our staff– that’s a scary thought.”

Mark Funderburk, Chief Executive Officer for UMC, provided the following statement. 

“UMC does not support the CMS mandate – it impacts every hospital, every healthcare team member across our city and country. UMC supports freedom of speech; As choices are thoughtfully made, we encourage all our team members to seek a vaccine… seek an exemption… stay with us.”

UMC isn’t the only medical center in the area enforcing the vaccine mandate. Covenant Health released a statement outlining the updated COVID-19 vaccine mandate.