New York health system invites back employees fired over COVID vaccine mandate

Syracuse, N.Y.-based St. Joseph's Health is inviting back employees who were terminated for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine, WSTM reported May 31. 

That decision comes one week after the New York State Department of Health began repealing its COVID-19 vaccine requirement for workers in regulated healthcare facilities, originally implemented in August 2021. 

St. Joseph's Health eliminated 2.04 percent of its workforce who chose not to get the vaccine. Now the health system is reaching out to those workers and asking them to come back, its chief medical officer, Philip Falcone, MD, told the news station in a statement. 

"Colleagues and job applicants, including former colleagues who may have exited the organization when the vaccine mandate was implemented, are now eligible for an exemption," Dr. Falcone said. "Our Talent Acquisition team is actively contacting our former colleagues, encouraging them to consider returning to the organization."

The health system is in a "different phase" of its COVID-19 response, according to Dr. Falcone. Absenteeism, hospitalizations and deaths from the virus are the lowest they have been since the pandemic began. 

"Although the requirement for a vaccine mandate has no longer been deemed necessary by regulating bodies at the federal and state level, vaccines remain strongly recommended as safe and effective at preventing serious illness or death from COVID-19," Dr. Falcone said. "Our colleagues will continue to use appropriate infection prevention and control measures, including hand hygiene and the use of required PPE."


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