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NCH responds to state investigation of potential vaccine passport violators

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Posted at 5:44 PM, Oct 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-12 18:17:42-04

COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. — Two of the businesses that made the governor’s list are Collier county's largest health care system NCH and Big Arts on Sanibel.

NCH is one of the 121 businesses being investigated by the Florida Department of Health, allegedly for requiring proof of vaccination in defiance of governor Ron Desantis' order.

In a statement from NCH to Fox 4 the healthcare system said,

"While NCH’s vaccine requirement is only for employees, contractors, and volunteers of NCH and we have never required our patients or visitors to show evidence of vaccination..."
Matthew Heinle, NCH General Counsel

NCH's statement lines up with the Department of Health’s guidelines saying, a business cannot require proof of the vaccine from its customers or patrons.

NCH adds that,

subsection (5) of that same statute clearly says “this section does not apply to a healthcare provider…” which, in addition to not having received any official notification from the state on this issue, is another reason we find this matter puzzling.
Matthew Heinle, NCH General Counsel

Peter Bergerson, a professor of political science at Florida Gulf Coast University told Fox 4 this is only the beginning of this process.

“The miscommunication the cross-communication of the multiple agencies that are involved have really left those people who are involved on the day-to-day basis of implementing or following the policy really at a loss,” said Bergerson.

He says mixed messages at different government levels will extend this issue he says for at least the next year, and could end up in the courtroom.

“Are they going to fine the individual? And the entities that are on that list, 120 or so? Or some of them? Or not? And then there clearly could be court cases that would resolve the dispute,” said Bergerson.

He says the next move to watch for will be from the Department of Health.

is it just making a list?

Or does it plan to do something with it, like punishing businesses or cutting funding the way the DeSantis administration has done to schools that don't comply with its demands?

On Tuesday, officials at NCH say since making the Department of Health's list, they have not received any official notification from the state.