SYRACUSE — Upstate Medical University has suspended or terminated 113 employees who did not get COVID-19 shots by the state’s vaccination mandate deadline Monday.
Upstate said in a prepared statement most of the unvaccinated employees were suspended.
Suspended workers have to meet with Upstate’s employee-labor relations officials to discuss their refusal to get vaccinated as part of disciplinary hearings.
Employees who were terminated had not worked at Upstate long enough to qualify for disciplinary hearings.
The state hospital said workers can return to their jobs if they get vaccinated.
Darryl Geddes, an Upstate spokesman, said the affected workers will continue to get paid if they have accrued paid vacation time.
Health care workers who are fired or suspended for not getting vaccinated are not eligible for unemployment benefits, according to the state Labor Department.
Upstate, Syracuse’s biggest hospital, said its employee vaccination rate is 96%. The hospital did not provide a breakdown of how many employees have medical and religious exemptions. Upstate employs more than 6,600 people at its hospital in downtown Syracuse and Community General campus on Onondaga Hill.
“Upstate University Hospital continues to assess staffing and will make changes to operations and services as needed, to ensure safety and high-quality care,” the hospital said.
St. Joseph’s Health, another Syracuse hospital, suspended 122 workers who did not get vaccinated against Covid-19 by the Monday deadline. The St. Joe’s workers will be fired if they don’t get vaccinated by Oct. 8.
St. Joe’s said it may suspend some services, consolidate operating rooms and curtail elective surgeries because of the labor shortage.
Crouse Hospital reported seven unvaccinated workers who did not qualify for medical or religious exemptions, or are exempt because they permanently work from home, lost their jobs. Crouse said its employee vaccination rate is 94%.
The loss of workers at Upstate and other hospitals comes at a time when many health care facilities do not have enough staff.
Upstate temporarily closed 22 of its 35 operating rooms Monday in anticipation of a growing staff shortage due to New York’s Covid-19 vaccine mandate.
The hospital had already postponed elective surgeries as a result of chronic staff shortages during the coronavirus pandemic.
The hospital said it is giving priority to surgeries that are medically necessary, time sensitive or involve critical-care trauma cases. Those surgeries will be consolidated into the 13 open operating rooms.
Gov. Kathy Hochul has said the state will provide help to hospitals and nursing homes with significant mandate-related staff shortages.
She recently signed an executive order that, among other things, will allow doctors, nurses and other health care workers from other states and countries to practice in New York. Hochul has also said she will deploy the National Guard, if need be, to help facilities that don’t have enough staff.