New York hospitals lay off and suspend staff who refuse COVID vaccine
NEW YORK, Sept. 27 (Reuters) – Hospitals in New York on Monday began laying off or suspending healthcare workers for defying a state order for the COVID-19 vaccine, and shortages of resulting staff have prompted some hospitals to postpone elective surgeries or cut back on services.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told a news conference that city hospitals were not yet seeing a major impact from the mandate, adding that he was concerned about other parts of the city. ‘State with lower vaccination rates.
A spokeswoman for Catholic Health, one of the largest healthcare providers in western New York State, said it had achieved full compliance, counting staff members who had been vaccinated, those with exemptions and some who had been suspended without pay.
Spokeswoman JoAnne Cavanaugh declined to say how many workers have been suspended or given exemptions for medical or religious reasons.
Catholic Health said it had been forced to postpone “a small number” of elective surgeries.
The Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo has suspended elective inpatient surgeries and has stopped accepting intensive care patients from other hospitals as it prepares to lay off hundreds of unvaccinated employees, a said spokesperson Peter Cutler.
Cutler said the decision to cut some operations would upset patients and hurt the hospital’s finances. Elective inpatient surgeries bring in about $ 1 million per week, he said.
“We had to make a decision as to where we could temporarily make changes so that we could make sure other service areas were as unaffected as possible,” Cutler said. “Financially, it’s a big problem.
The vaccination surge comes as President Joe Biden and other state and federal political leaders step up pressure on unvaccinated Americans, some of whom oppose warrants on religious or health grounds.
The New York State Department of Health issued an order last month requiring all healthcare workers to receive at least their first COVID-19 vaccine by September 27, sparking a rush of hospitals to make vaccinate their employees.
Of the 43,000 employees at New York’s 11 public hospitals, about 5,000 were unvaccinated, Dr. Mitchell Katz, head of NYC Health + Hospitals, said at the press conference with de Blasio.
Katz said 95% of nurses were vaccinated and all facilities in the group were “open and fully functional” on Monday.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul said on Saturday she plans to employ the National Guard and out-of-state medical personnel to fill staff shortages, 16% of the 450,000 staff. government hospital not fully immunized.
Healthcare workers who are fired for refusing to be vaccinated will not be eligible for Unemployment Insurance unless they are able to provide a valid, physician-approved medical accommodation request, a said the Hochul office.
An Albany federal judge has temporarily ordered New York state officials to allow religious exemptions for the state-imposed vaccination mandate of healthcare workers.
Separately, a federal appeals court ruled Monday that New York City can order all teachers and staff to be vaccinated, overturning a previous ruling that suspended educators’ tenure.
Reporting by Nathan Layne in Wilton, Connecticut and Maria Caspani in New York; Additional reporting by Dan Whitcomb Editing by Bill Berkrot, Dan Grebler and David Gregorio
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