Hospitals And Nursing Homes Report Higher Vaccination Rates; Hundreds Fired

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SYRACUSE, NY (WRVO) – Hospitals and nursing homes in central New York are reporting a significant increase in employees getting vaccinated, following the state’s health care worker vaccine mandate. It’s a trend happening across the state as the vaccination rate of nursing home and hospital staff jumped to 92% this week. While the effects of the mandate has been minimal at some places, it’s made staffing shortages worse at other facilities.

About 97% of workers at Loretto, Syracuse’s largest nursing home, are now vaccinated, a 10% jump from last week. Julie Sheedy, chief marketing officer at Loretto, said the process to get workers vaccinated has been weeks in the making, and there was an additional push over the weekend and Monday.

“We brought the vaccine to our employees wherever they were working, whenever they were working,” Sheedy said. “We provided them with access to resources and really talked to those individuals one-on-one to reassure them this was a safe decision and to offer the vaccine they wanted. We’re very positive about the results.”

Only nine employees out of 700 were terminated or resigned after declining the vaccine. Thirteen others either need to turn in their vaccination cards or get vaccinated before they return to work.

“The numbers are small, so it’s very manageable for us,” Sheedy said. “We’ve been able to adjust.”

The vaccination rate at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Syracuse jumped to nearly 97% following the vaccine deadline. Of the 3,800 employees, 122 received suspension letters on Tuesday. They have until October 8 to get vaccinated or will be let go.

Some hospitals reported significant staffing shortages even before the vaccine mandate, which has only added to the problem. The Mohawk Valley Health System now has a 17.5% employee vacancy rate after putting 180 unvaccinated employees, nearly 5% of its workforce, on unpaid leave. Those workers can return if they get vaccinated. In a statement, President and CEO Darlene Stromstad said the community should expect longer wait times, phones not answered as quickly and other disruptions to services. Their employee vaccination rate did jump from 70% six weeks ago, to more than 95%.