Health Care

As COVID vaccine mandate goes into effect, NYC hospitals find little need for plan B

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Several hospital spokespeople told Crain’s they expect the staff vaccination rates to increase further in the coming days as newly furloughed employees get inoculated so they can return to work. Statewide, about 2% of hospital staff, 1% of nursing home employees and 3.5% of staff at adult-care facilities have not gotten their first dose but said they plan to do so.

St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx achieved a 97% vaccination rate among its 3,000 employees, including several dozen who got a dose of the vaccine the last day before the deadline. The hospital put 65 unvaccinated workers on leave and said it will terminate their employment Monday if they do not get at least one dose by then, a spokesman said. About two dozen workers have exemptions.

Rates were even higher among large health systems such as NYU Langone and New York–Presbyterian, which both reported 99% compliance with the mandate among their tens of thousands of employees.

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Northwell Health said in a statement that its 67,000-person workforce is “already nearly 100% vaccinated.” The system, which operates 23 hospitals, has started the process of terminating unvaccinated employees, including about two dozen clinical and nonclinical leaders who were fired last week. It has 3,000 retirees, volunteers and healthcare students on standby to fill any shortages but has yet to call on any of them, a spokeswoman said.

The state released data Wednesday on the percentage of employees who are fully vaccinated at individual hospitals, although its mandate required only that staff have at least one dose.

Raske said it was clear that making vaccination a condition of continued employment was a major impetus for healthcare workers, as evidenced by a “large turnout of employees that decided in the last 24 hours to get vaccinated.”

“We’re in a position where I think the mandate can be absorbed by the healthcare system,” he said.


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