A Buffalo, New York-based hospital system said that it has fired about 100 unvaccinated employees who were previously granted religious exemptions.
Workers at Kaleida Health had until Dec. 6 to receive their second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to Kaleida. The company said it will now delay inpatient elective surgeries that are deemed nonessential at the Buffalo General Medical Center and the Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul previously mandated that health care workers be fully vaccinated by Dec. 5.
Kaleida said that “combined with the previous vaccine mandate deadline in November, approximately 200 personnel have now been separated from the organization.” About 100 workers were terminated during the latest round of firings this week, the company said.
With the decision, the company said it “intends to remain open and provide access to services across the organization” and will “add resources and post positions so it can continue to be there for the community.”
The firm will now attempt to “manage the number of elective inpatient surgeries on a daily basis that require an overnight stay,” Dr. Michael Mineo, chief medical officer for Buffalo General Medical Center and Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, told local media outlets in a statement. “This will ensure that, as a health system, we are appropriately managing patient care and community need amid this current surge in COVID-19 cases.”
The move came as another New York state hospital system, Catholic Health, confirmed to local media outlets that it will begin to enforce the mandate.
“Catholic Health’s Human Resources team has been compiling the number of vaccinated associates, along with those who have filed valid medical exemptions or deferrals, to determine a final tally of staff who are not in compliance with the mandate,” Catholic Health said in a statement. “As of today, about 185 associates, or less than 2 percent of the health system’s workforce remain unvaccinated.
“Any unvaccinated Catholic Health associate covered under the vaccine mandate who has not received a medical exemption or deferral, is being terminated based on the requirements of the state mandate.”
On Nov. 15, all New York state hospitals received a letter from Hochul that said workers who were previously granted a religious exemption must now have documentation of a first dose of the vaccine, or a valid medical exemption.
“Every single individual who enters a health care facility should never have the fear they are going to contract COVID from the person charged of taking care of their health,” said Hochul, a Democrat.