Hospitals in New York state suspended or fired scores of workers Tuesday after they refused to comply with the state’s new mandate for health care employees to be vaccinated for coronavirus, officials said Tuesday.
St. Barnabas Hospital in The Bronx reported that 98 workers, mostly in its housekeeping and nursing divisions, failed to show proof of getting a COVID-19 shot.
But that number had dropped from 140 employees earlier on Monday, an indication that the workers now realize the edict to get vaccinated — or get fired — is real and many are complying at the last minute to keep their jobs.
The nearly 100 employees are suspended without pay and have until next week to show proof or face termination, a St. Barnabas spokesman said.
St. Barnabas has about 3,000 employees.
“We can manage,” said hospital rep Steve Clark.
At Richmond University Hospital in Staten Island, a sizable ten percent of employees were still unvaccinated as of Tuesday, a spokesman said.
Richmond hospital has about 2,500 employees, so a ten percent refusal rate equates to 250 workers.
“We have 90% of our staff vaccinated. We also have no staffing issues and continue to provide the full spectrum of healthcare services for the Staten Island community and surrounding areas,” said Richmond hospital spokesman Alex Lutz.
The guillotine continues to fall at Northwell Health, the state’s largest medical network which runs Lenox Hill, Long Island Jewish, LIJ-Forest Hills and Staten Island University hospital in the city.
Northwell has 76,000 employees.
The hospital behemoth did not provide precise numbers on Tuesday. But even a one percent non compliance rate translates into 760 workers.
Northwell Health on Monday announced that it already terminated dozens of anti-vax managers.
“We have begun a process to exit all unvaccinated team members using a carefully planned approach that both maintains continuity of care at all of our facilities and ensures the safety of all of our patients,” a spokesman said in a statement.
“Northwell regrets losing any employee under such circumstances, but as health care professionals and members of the largest healthcare provider in the state, we understand our unique responsibility to protect the health of our patients and each other. We owe it to our staff, our patients and the communities we serve to be 100 percent vaccinated against COVID-19.”
The Big Apple’s public hospital system, the Health and Hospitals Corporation, refused to provide a comprehensive tally of how many employees were sent home Monday because of their refusal to comply with Gov. Kathy Hochul’s order, which required all hospital and nursing staff to get their first shot of the coronavirus vaccination by Sept 27.
The system’s chief, Dr. Mitch Katz, told reporters during Mayor Bill de Blasio’s daily press conference that the system had brought on about 500 nurses to sub for those who could no longer work.
“We anticipated that there would be some loss of staff. We knew that no matter what our efforts, some people were not going to get vaccinated, and we planned appropriately,” Katz said.
When pressed for additional details, a spokeswoman would only say that more than 90 percent of its 43,000-strong staff had met the deadline.
Other Brooklyn hospitals that reported vaccination rates of under 70 percent to the state Health Department last week — Interfaith, Brookdale and Wyckoff — had no immediate comment.
Upstate hospitals are also confronting anti-vax workers.
Albany Medical Center reports that 204 employees are not vaccinated and face dismissal. The hospital in the capital region employs 11,456 workers.
But with the sword of Damocles hanging over their heads, there’s been an 11th hour surge of laggard workers getting their COVID shot, hospital officials said.
“I don’t have numbers of people let go, but I do know that our hospitals saw a significant surge yesterday in health care workers getting vaccinated before the midnight deadline,” said Brian Conway, a spokesman for the Greater New York Hospital Association.
Governor Kathy Hochul signed an executive worker Monday night to address staffing shortages at medical facilities. The state Health Department will oversee a 24/7 operations center and National Guard medics, retirees and out-of-state and foreign nurses could be deployed.
“The only way we can move past this pandemic is to ensure that everyone eligible is vaccinated, and that includes those who are taking care of our vulnerable family members and loved ones,” Hochul said.
Preliminary self-reported data shows 92 percent of hospital staffers statewide were vaccinated as of Monday evening, Hochul said.
The percentage of nursing home staff receiving at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose increased to 92% as of Monday evening, up from 70% on August 15 — before the vaccine mandate was announced, according to Health Department data, the governor said.
Several lawsuits have been filed to scuttle the vaccine mandate.
A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order barring employers from denying workers religious exemptions tied to the state’s mandate, in response to a religious freedom lawsuit filed by 17 healthcare workers — the majority being Catholic — against Hochul, the DOH and Attorney General Letiita James.
Hochul, however, has argued the state constitution does not allow for religious exemptions. Utica Judge David Hurd has until Oct. 12 to make a final decision.
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