Northwell Health lays off 1,400 unvaccinated employees
Northwell Health, New York State’s largest healthcare provider, announced Monday that 1,400 employees – less than 2% of its staff – have refused to be vaccinated against the coronavirus and have had to quit their jobs .
New York is requiring more than 650,000 employees of state hospitals and nursing homes to be vaccinated, a mandate that began taking effect last week, prompting tens of thousands of employees to get vaccinated. Others have sued and courtrooms statewide are determining when and how to allow exemptions from the requirement.
New York’s healthcare mandate is particularly strict: Employees are barred from the option of weekly testing or religious exemptions, although the latter is being challenged in court.
The Biden administration has made the requirement for vaccines for many healthcare workers a central part of its efforts to immunize the country, and many healthcare workers, especially those in large hospital systems like Northwell, appear to be complying with the guidelines. vaccination warrants.
In New York state, 87% of hospital workers were fully immunized as of September 29, according to state health data.
The possibility of a widespread personnel shortage loomed before the mandate took effect, so much so that Governor Kathy C. Hochul last week declared a state of emergency that would allow her to deploy troops from the United Nations. National Guard, speed up visas for foreign workers and recruit new graduates. or recently retired healthcare professionals to fill staff shortages.
So far, the number of workers in New York who have quit their jobs is relatively small and doesn’t seem likely to result in the kind of staff shortage that could compromise patient care. Still, the governor’s contingency plans reflect fears that New York’s hospitals might be put at risk in the same way hospitals were in parts of the country that the Delta variant devastated.
Northwell, which employs more than 76,000 people, said in a statement that vaccinating all of its employees would allow the provider to “provide exceptional care in all of our hospitals, without disruption and allow all of our facilities to remain open and fully functional. operational “.
“Northwell has taken a rapid and aggressive approach to successfully move towards full immunization compliance while maintaining continuity of care and ensuring that our high level of patient safety is not compromised in any way,” continued the communicated.
Some Northwell workers protested the vaccination warrants when they were first announced in August.
John Trinchino, a registered nurse, said he was fired last week from his job at Staten Island Teaching Hospital, a facility in Northwell. Mr Trinchino said he had Covid-19 earlier in the pandemic and believed his infection’s antibodies would protect against a new disease.
The State of Vaccine Mandates in the United States
- Vaccination rules. On August 23, the FDA granted full approval to Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine for people 16 years of age and older, paving the way for mandates in the public and private sectors. Such warrants are authorized by law and have been confirmed in court challenges.
- College and universities. More than 400 colleges and universities require students to be vaccinated against Covid-19. Almost all of them are in states that voted for President Biden.
- Schools. California has become the first state to issue a vaccination warrant for all educators and to announce its intention to add the Covid-19 vaccine as a requirement for attending school, which could begin as early as next fall. Los Angeles already has a vaccination mandate for public school students ages 12 and older that begins Nov. 21. New York City’s mandate for teachers and staff, which went into effect Oct. 4 after delays due to court challenges, appears to have sparked thousands of minutes of gunfire.
- Hospitals and medical centers. Many hospitals and large healthcare systems require their employees to be vaccinated. Mandates for healthcare workers in California and New York state appear to have forced thousands of holdouts to receive injections.
- Indoor activities. New York City requires workers and customers to show proof of at least one dose of Covid-19 for indoor meals, gyms, entertainment and shows. Beginning November 4, Los Angeles will require most people to provide full proof of vaccination to enter a range of indoor businesses, including restaurants, gyms, museums, cinemas, and lounges, in one of the strictest vaccination rules in the country.
- At the federal level. September 9 President Biden announced a vaccination mandate for the vast majority of federal workers. This mandate will apply to employees of the executive, including the White House and all federal agencies and members of the armed forces.
- In tthe private sector. Mr Biden demanded that all businesses with more than 100 employees require weekly vaccination or testing, helping to propel new corporate vaccination policies. Some companies, like United Airlines and Tyson Foods, had mandates in place before Mr. Biden’s announcement.
Mr Trinchino added that requiring the vaccination violated his civil liberties and that he did not intend to be vaccinated.
“This is all going to lead to worse patient care, and I’m just disgusted by it,” he said.
Joe Kemp, a spokesperson for Northwell, said the company regrets losing workers to vaccinations. He said a few thousand employees had been vaccinated as the deadline approached and some who had initially lost their jobs had been vaccinated and returned to work.
Redundant workers have the option to have a 30-day reinstatement interview, Kemp said, but Northwell “was openly recruiting” for the newly vacant jobs.
“The aim was to get people vaccinated, not to fire them,” he said.
Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura contributed reporting.