How workers responded to New York's vaccination mandate

As the deadline approached Sept. 27 for New York state's healthcare COVID-19 vaccination mandate, thousands of workers got inoculated, boosting the state's vaccination rate and avoiding a worst-case staffing crisis, according to The New York Times

However, some workers continued to refuse to comply.

New York required healthcare workers at hospitals and nursing homes to receive their first vaccine dose by Sept. 27. Workers at other places covered by the mandate, including diagnostic and treatment centers, home health agencies, long-term home healthcare programs, school-based clinics and hospice care programs, must have at least one dose by Oct. 7.

As of Sept. 22, 84 percent of hospital employees in the state were fully vaccinated, up from 77 percent on Aug. 10 before the mandate was announced, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul's office reported. Her office said preliminary self-reported data shows hospital staff receiving at least one dose of the vaccine was 92 percent as of the evening of Sept. 27.

At NYC Health + Hospitals, New York City's public hospital system, more than 8,000 workers were unvaccinated a week ago, according to The New York Times. But on Sept. 28, the system told Becker's fewer than 5,000 were unvaccinated, and 91 percent of its workforce had been inoculated. The system said employees not in compliance will be put on unpaid leave, and facilities are operating without any disruptions.

Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, N.Y., told The New York Times it paused scheduling nonemergency procedures before the state's vaccination deadline. But as of Sept. 27, officials told the newspaper the staff vaccination rate had increased to 95.5 percent, and less than 300 of the hospital's 16,000 employees risked being terminated.

"Some are still very scared," Kathleen Parrinello, the hospital's COO, told The New York Times. "So, they need hand-holding and reassurance."

She said other workers were not completely convinced about the shot but didn't want to lose their jobs.

At New Hyde Park-based Northwell Health, the largest healthcare provider in the state, the workforce was nearly 100 percent vaccinated hours before the state's deadline. About two dozen leaders were not allowed to continue their roles because they chose not to get vaccinated.

The system said Sept. 27 that it was beginning the process of exiting the rest of its unvaccinated staff.

New York City-based NewYork-Presbyterian had its own vaccination deadline: 11:59 p.m. on Sept. 22. Of the system's 48,000 team members, more than 99 percent have complied, spokesperson Alexandra Langan told Becker's

Fewer than 250 did not comply and no longer work at the system as of Sept. 23.

"We thank all our team members who have gotten vaccinated to help protect themselves and their families, our patients, our colleagues and communities from COVID-19," said Ms. Langan.

New York's governor has taken steps to alleviate potential staffing shortages, including signing an executive order to expand the eligible healthcare workforce and allow more healthcare workers to administer COVID-19 tests and shots.

The governor has also directed a 24/7 operations center, led by the state's health department, "to constantly monitor staffing operations and trends statewide, provide guidance to healthcare facilities and help troubleshoot acute situations with providers as necessary."

Read more about the state efforts here. Read the full article in The New York Times here.  

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