Northwell Health fires 1,400 unvaccinated employees

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Northwell Health, New York State’s largest healthcare provider, announced Monday that 1,400 employees – less than 2 percent of its workforce – refused to get the coronavirus vaccination and had to quit their jobs.

New York is demanding that the state’s more than 650,000 hospital and nursing home workers be vaccinated, a mandate that went into effect last week that prompted tens of thousands of employees to get their vaccinations. Others filed lawsuits, and courtrooms across the state are deciding when and how exceptions to the requirement can be allowed.

The health mandate in New York is particularly strict: employees have no option for weekly tests or exceptions for religious reasons, although the latter are challenged in court.

The Biden government has made vaccination compulsory for many health care workers a central part of their Try to vaccinate the country, and many medical workers, especially in large hospital systems like Northwell, appear to be following vaccination regulations.

In New York state, 87 percent of hospital workers were fully vaccinated as of September 29 state health data.

The possibility of widespread staff shortages emerged before the mandate came into force, so much so that Governor Kathy C. Hochul declared a Emergency last week that would allow her to deploy National Guard forces, expedite visas for workers from abroad, and recruit newly graduated or recently retired health workers to help fill staffing shortages.

So far, the number of workers who have left their jobs in New York is relatively few and there are unlikely to be staff shortages that could affect patient care. Still, the governor’s contingency plans reflect fears that New York hospitals could be just as vulnerable as hospitals in parts of the country that the Delta variant has devastated.

Northwell, which employs more than 76,000 people, said in a statement that vaccination of all of its employees would enable the provider to “provide uninterrupted exceptional care in all of our hospitals and keep all of our facilities open and fully operational”.

“Northwell has taken a rapid, aggressive approach to successfully achieving full vaccination compliance while maintaining continuity of care and ensuring that our high standards of patient safety are not compromised in any way,” the statement said.

Some Northwell workers protested the vaccine mandates when they were announced first in August.

John Trichino, a registered nurse, said he was fired from his job at Staten Island University Hospital, a facility in Northwell, last week. Mr Trichino said he had Covid-19 earlier in the pandemic and that he thought the antibodies would protect his infection from further diseases.

Mr Trichino added that vaccination violates his civil liberties and he has no plans to get vaccinated.

“Anything that will result in poor patient care and I’m just plain disgusted with it,” he said.

Joe Kemp, a Northwell spokesman, said the company regretted losing employees to vaccinations. He said that a few thousand employees were getting vaccinated towards the end of the deadline and that some who had originally lost their jobs were vaccinated and returned to their jobs.

Lay-off workers have 30 days of re-employment interviews, Kemp said, but Northwell is “open” to recruiting for the new vacancies.

“The goal was to get people vaccinated, not to get people fired,” he said.

Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura contributed to the coverage.


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