How the COVID vaccine mandate is affecting New York hospitals

New York’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate deadline struck at midnight, after six weeks’ leadup time for unvaccinated workers at hospitals and nursing homes statewide to get at least one dose and secure their continued employment.

As of Monday evening, 92% of employees at hospitals and nursing homes and 89% of adult-care facility staff had received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to preliminary data provided by Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office.

Facilities largely had yet to report the final results of the mandate among their workers as of Tuesday morning, but New York–Presbyterian, which instituted an earlier deadline, said last week that 99% of its 48,000 employees and affiliated physicians had complied. Across its 10 hospital campuses and 200-plus clinics and medical groups, fewer than 250 employees declined to get vaccinated, the health system said.

Hospital and nursing home executives had planned for service reductions after implementation of the mandate, which they expected to magnify longstanding staffing shortages, Crain’s previously reported. The Healthcare Association of New York State, which includes 246 hospitals and health systems, warned in a memo to its members that vacancies were most significant among registered-nurse and entry-level clinical positions and “may increase diversions, transfers and the need to shut down critical service lines.”

Hochul signed an executive order late Monday night that allows her to use emergency powers to deploy medically trained National Guard members and bring in retired or out-of-state healthcare workers to alleviate any staffing shortages due to the loss of unvaccinated workers.

Employees who are terminated for refusing the vaccine will not be eligible for unemployment insurance unless they have a doctor-approved request for medical accommodation, the Department of Labor said.

Those who applied for religious exemptions to the mandate, however, will be able to continue working at least through Oct. 12, while lawsuits are pending against the state after the Public Health and Health Planning Council removed a planned religious exemption.

Employees of other healthcare facilities subject to the mandate, including home care and hospice agencies, face an Oct. 7 deadline to get at least one vaccine dose.

Below is a list of the vaccination rates at area hospitals and health systems, as reported by the facilities themselves, now that the mandate has gone into effect. Crain’s will update the list throughout the day.

  • Richmond University Medical Center on Staten Island: 90%.
  • St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx: 97%.


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