On the eve of enforcement of a Covid-19 vaccination mandate for healthcare workers, a group of people who oppose it protested at the Northport home of CEO Michael Dowling Sunday night.
All healthcare employees in New York State must have received at least one Covid-19 vaccination by Monday or face losing their jobs. And on Monday, Northwell began the process of firing some unvaccinated workers, though declined to provide a hospital by hospital breakdown of numbers.
It said, “Northwell has spent several weeks preparing for New York State’s mandate that all health care workers get at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by Sept. 27. But we are taking even stronger measures to ensure the safety of our staff and, more importantly, the well-being of our patients and the communities we serve.
“As a health system we are committed to vaccinating our entire workforce beyond the scope of the state’s mandate to include both our clinical and non-clinical staff. A few hundred unvaccinated leaders were contacted last week to take urgent action in regards to getting the shot. About two dozen of them who were still not vaccinated were exited from the system.
“We are now beginning the process to exit the rest of our unvaccinated staff. Northwell wants to reassure the public that during this time there will be no impact to the quality of patient care at any of our facilities. We are proud that our workforce is already nearly 100 percent vaccinated.
“As health care professionals and members of the largest health care provider in New York State, we have a unique responsibility to protect the health of our patients and each other. We care for sick people – some critically ill – every day, and we are responsible for their safety while in our care.”
Upstate hospitals have been canceling elective surgeries and imposing other limits in anticipation of a shortage of staff. Northwell told The New York Times last week that it might have to fire hundreds of workers for failure to meet the mandate.
Workers at Huntington Hospital who have opposed the mandate or expressed concerns about the vaccine have protested in the past at the hospital.
A source said about 20 people showed up at Dowling’s house, some carrying signs. Northwell confirmed that the protest occurred but didn’t provide any further details.
Gov. Kathy Hochul said Saturday that the state was making plans to deal with a possible staff shortage that includ preparing to sign an executive order to declare a state of emergency that could include allowing qualified health care professionals licensed in other states or countries, recent graduates, retired and formerly practicing health care professionals to practice in New York State.
This story will update.