RWJBarnabas fires 118 workers over vaccination mandate

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RWJBarnabas Health has fired 118 staff members for not complying with the West Orange, N.J.-based health system's COVID-19 vaccination mandate, according to a statement shared with Becker's.

In May, RWJBarnabas announced its policy requiring supervisors and higher ranking employees to be vaccinated, with plans to eventually extend the mandate to all employees. Those at the supervisory level and above were required to be vaccinated no later than June 30.

As of July 14, 2,979 staff members, or 99.7 percent, at the supervisory level and above were fully vaccinated or had received medical and religious exemptions or a deferral, the health system reported. Six staff members at the supervisory level and above did not comply with the mandate and were terminated.

Staff members and physicians who are not at the supervisory level and above had a vaccination deadline of Oct. 15. Most complied by the deadline, although some did not.  

"Thanks to our staff members' incredible commitment, dedication and sensitivity to safety and the need to be role models for our patients and co-workers, as of Oct. 15, 99.7 percent [of] RWJBarnabas Health staff have been vaccinated or granted an approved exemption or deferral," the health system reported. "Regrettably, and despite all best efforts, 118 staff members have not complied with the mandate and are no longer employees of RWJBarnabas Health, per our vaccine mandate policy."

RWJBarnabas said 62 of the 118 staff members who were fired were per diem employees who worked occasional shifts.

"While we take the loss of any team member seriously, we had anticipated some of our staff would not be in compliance and took steps to proactively recruit for positions deemed at risk for vacancy. Given the overall number of staff who have been separated from the organization is distributed across our numerous facilities, job types and work shifts, patient care will not be affected, nor will there be any impact on the normal operations of our services," the health system said.

RWJBarnabas is among the hospitals and health systems in the U.S. where workers have been fired for noncompliance with vaccination policies.

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