83,000 New York hospital workers are set to lose their jobs, as the state’s COVID vaccine mandate went into effect Monday at midnight. The mandate requires that all healthcare workers receive the jab.
Ahead of the mandate’s effect, some hospital networks, including Northwell Health, have already terminated the employment of over two dozen healthcare workers. Others have been given 30-days notice to receive the vaccine or lose their jobs, CBS News reports.
According to New York state officials, around 16 per cent of hospital workers are not fully vaccinated. The number is equal to slightly more than 83,000 employees.
Steven Corwin, the president and CEO of New York-Presbyterian Hospitals, one of the largest hospital networks in the United States, says that a vaccine mandate is necessary to get everyone fully vaccinated. Around 30 per cent of staff were unvaccinated before the hospital network’s own vaccination deadline last week. However, less than 1 per cent refused to take the shot and resigned. The rest got the jab.
CBS News reports:
"So out of 48,000 employees and affiliated physicians, we have less than 220 that have not chosen to get the vaccine," Corwin told CBS News' Errol Barnett.
At Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo, about 5% of the staff, roughly 400 people, are unvaccinated and on leave.
"We stopped elective inpatient surgeries. We stopped some of our outpatient patient visits. We stopped ICU medical transfers from other referral rural hospitals...We've asked for more time to work on strategies with the state to ensure that as many people as possible get vaccinated," said Tom Quatroche, the president and CEO of Erie County Medical Center.
On Monday, New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced plans to dispatch National Guard troops to fill in at hospitals that are short-staffed due to the mass termination or resignation of employees who refuse to take the vaccine.
A similar vaccination mandate for teachers is expected to take effect in New York City later this week. However, is it unlikely to see a massive fallout, as the teachers union says 97 per cent of its members are already vaccinated. Over the weekend, New York City said that roughly 7,000 education workers received the shot.
The Washington Post reports that the restrictions are causing a staffing shortage crisis, prompting Gov. Hochul to declare a “disaster emergency” as tens of thousands of workers face termination in the coming weeks.
Officials in New York had braced for the confrontation as the deadline, set as part of the mandate instituted by former governor Andrew M. Cuomo (D) last month, neared. Gov. Kathy Hochul late Monday signed an executive order that officials hope could offer some short-term reprieve with staffing shortages. In the six-page order, she temporarily changed the state’s rules to more easily allow health-care workers from other states and countries to begin practicing in New York, among other things.
Anticipating that many of the unvaccinated health-care workers will soon leave their jobs, private businesses in the medical industry have begun paring back some of their services so that an already overstretched workforce can focus on providing essential care. It was unclear whether workers who did not want to get vaccinated would acquiesce in the face of government restrictions or hold out. It appears there are significant groups of people in both camps.