A controversial statewide COVID-19 vaccine mandate for healthcare workers went into effect in New York last week.
Following a grace period for those who had not yet complied, the state’s largest network of healthcare providers has reportedly fired at least 1,400 workers who failed to get their shots.
“Open and fully operational”
According to NY1, Northwell Health boasts a workforce of 76,000, though it is unclear whether that figure includes those affected by the recent mass firing.
“Northwell Health is proud to announce that our workforce — the largest in New York State — is 100 percent vaccinated,” the company touted in a recent statement.
As the New York Post reported, Northwell Health said the move would allow for “exceptional care at all of our facilities, without interruption” while remaining “open and fully operational.”
The healthcare provider network touted its “rapid, aggressive approach” to comply with vaccine mandates “while maintaining continuity of care and ensuring that our high standards of patient safety is not compromised in any way.”
Northwell Health went on to “thank the vast majority of our employees who did the right thing and got vaccinated.”
“We understand our unique responsibility”
A fully vaccinated staff “is an important measure in our duty to protect the health and safety of our staff, our patients and the communities we serve,” the statement concluded.
As for those fired for not complying, the company expressed its regret, adding: “But as health care professionals and members of the largest health care provider in the state, we understand our unique responsibility to protect the health of our patients and each other. We owe it to our staff, our patients and the communities we serve to be 100 percent vaccinated against COVID-19.”
Although the company claims it will be able to provide the same level of service while seeking to recruit candidates for the vacated jobs, a report released just days earlier found that staffing shortages at Upstate University Hospital had already led to the postponement of most elective surgeries.
At that time, the Upstate network included about 6,600 employees in two facilities. It was forced to condense its 35 operating rooms down to just 13 while prioritizing surgeries deemed medically necessary, time-sensitive, or critical.
“While Upstate University Hospital continues to ensure the best care for our patients, we are proactively taking temporary measures to focus on COVID cases, as well as safely meet the critical care needs of the community,” the provider explained in a statement.