Northwell Health fires 1,400 unvaccinated employees

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Northwell Health fires 1,400 unvaccinated employees
Northwell Health has fired 1,400 unvaccinated employees after not meeting state guidelines to be inoculated. (Photo courtesy of Northwell Health)

Northwell Health, New York’s largest health care provider, has fired 1,400 employees who did not receive their coronavirus vaccinations as required by state guidelines.

In a statement to Blank Slate Media, the organization said it regrets terminating employees under the circumstances but cited the importance of keeping its patients and staff members safe.

“Northwell regrets losing any employee under such circumstances, 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,” the statement said. “We owe it to our staff, our patients and the communities we serve to be 100 percent vaccinated against COVID-19.”

Employees at nursing homes and hospitals were required to receive at least their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine by midnight on Monday, according to an Aug. 16 order by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Employees at hospices, home care centers and adult care facilities are required to get at least their first dose by Oct. 7.

The health care entity thanked the employees that did receive their vaccination and said the staff is now fully inoculated.

“Northwell has taken a rapid, aggressive approach to move successfully toward full vaccination compliance while maintaining continuity of care and ensuring that our high standard of patient safety is not compromised in any way,” the statement read. “We thank the vast majority of our employees who did the right thing and got vaccinated.”

Northwell declined to comment on how many employees from each hospital were terminated and where the terminated employees reside.

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced on Tuesday that people who offer health care to the those served by the state’s Office of Mental Health and Office for People with Developmental Disabilities have until Nov. 1 to get at least a first dose of the vaccination. Starting on Oct. 12, Hochul said, staff in those settings will be subject to weekly testing if unvaccinated.

“We have an obligation to extend this assurance to those who need to receive mental health services and special care, which is why we are making the vaccine mandatory for all staff who work in these facilities that fall under state jurisdiction,” Hochul said.

Hochul said she plans to continue to expand the vaccine requirement to staff members in the human service and mental hygiene care fields in the next few weeks. Hochul said she  wants to ensure that staffing levels continue to be appropriate in those systems before expanding the vaccination mandate.

“Vaccine requirements work in getting people to do the right thing, and all professionals in health settings must take every basic precaution against COVID-19, including the vaccine, so they do not spread the virus to the people coming in for treatment,” Hochul said.

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