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R.I. health department asks providers, patients to report unvaccinated workers

Health professionals who are unvaccinated by Oct. 1, and do not have a valid medical exemption, may be subject to financial penalties and administrative action against their license

Marianne Ryan, left, a Lifespan Health Care registered nurse, receives a new COVID-19 vaccine.Elise Amendola/Associated Press

PROVIDENCE — The state is asking health care providers to file online complaints if they know of any unvaccinated providers in violation of the mandated Oct. 1 deadline.

The email sent by Ellen Balasco, the chief of the Center for Professional Boards and Licensing at the state health department, and obtained by the Globe, said health professional licensees who are not vaccinated by Oct. 1, and do not have a valid medical exemption, may be subject to fines and administrative action.

The department will begin conducting random audits of each license type to assess compliance, Balasco wrote.

“If you are aware of any RIDOH-licensed health care provider who is providing direct patient care to patients and is unvaccinated, you can file an online complaint... or you can call 401-222-5200,” wrote Balasco.


Joseph Wendelken, a spokesman for the department, told the Globe people are able to file complaints about health care providers or facilities for any reason.

“This is not unique to COVID-19,” said Wendelken. People can file complaints for unvaccinated providers using the same system for normal complaints against health care workers.

“After we receive a complaint, it gets reviewed and a determination is made on whether to open an investigation,” he said.

According to the department’s website, the investigations into complaints are “kept strictly confidential” and the filer cannot take a complaint back. The named licensee will be notified and provided with a copy of the complaint, unless the filer asks to remain anonymous.

Alexa Gagosz can be reached at Follow her @alexagagosz and on Instagram @AlexaGagosz.