Syracuse hospital fires 45 workers for refusing to get state-mandated Covid vaccination – syracuse.com

Syracuse, N.Y. — Crouse Hospital fired 45 employees today for refusing to get a state-mandated Covid-19 vaccination after losing their religious exemptions.

The religious exemptions were revoked by a court ruling earlier this month.

The state told hospitals, nursing homes, adult care facilities, home care agencies and hospices that workers who lost exemptions had to get the first dose of vaccine or prove they have a medical exemption by today.

Employees who do not get vaccinated or have medical exemptions can no longer work in jobs where they can expose other workers and patients to the virus.

The fired Crouse workers will be eligible to get rehired if they get vaccinated, said Bob Allen, a Crouse vice president.

There are 10,985 unvaccinated health care workers statewide who lost religious exemptions, including 1,509 in Central New York, according to the state Health Department.

At Upstate University Hospital, 153 employees who had religious exemptions face either termination or suspension by the end of the day if they don’t get vaccinated. Of the 153 Upstate workers, 69 are nurses.

Another 80 workers at St. Joseph’s Health in Syracuse who lost exemptions could be suspended Tuesday if they don’t get shots today.

Central New York hospitals and nursing homes fired hundreds of workers last month for not complying with the vaccination mandate.

The job losses come at a time when severely short-staffed hospitals are seeing another surge of Covid-19 patients fill their beds.

Upstate recently closed nearly 20% of its beds because it has about 400 vacant registered nurse positions.

The state’s original Covid-19 health care worker vaccination mandate included both medical and religious exemptions. But the religious exemption was eliminated in the final version of the mandate approved Aug. 26.

Seventeen health care workers sued the state in federal court on the grounds that the mandate conflicted with their religious beliefs. A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction last month blocking the state from enforcing the mandate on workers who had or were seeking religious exemptions.

The state appealed the decision. Then on Nov. 1 a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit sided with the state and lifted the preliminary injunction.

The panel called the mandate “… a reasonable exercise of the State’s power to enact rules to protect the public health.”

James T. Mulder covers health and higher education. Have a news tip? Contact him at (315) 470-2245 or jmulder@syracuse.com

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Syracuse hospital fires 45 workers for refusing to get state-mandated Covid vaccination – syracuse.com

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