500+ Western New York healthcare workers fired over vaccinations


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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Time has run out for hundreds of local healthcare employees who were not comfortable getting the COVID vaccination. After a series of medical and religious exemption deadlines this fall, the final numbers are out.

Kaleida Health has terminated 200 employees for refusal to get a COVID shot. Catholic Health is sending termination letters on Tuesday to 2% of its workforce for the same reason, and the state’s mandate for all healthcare workers to be vaccinated resulted in 106 employees being terminated at Erie County Medical Center (ECMC), or about 3% of its workforce. Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center lost 40 employees.

Although this was not a county mandate, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz supported the decision. “Many of the illnesses and deaths that were caused to nursing home patients last year were brought in by the staff who were positive and were sharing it with the residents they were taking care of,” he said. “They didn’t know they were positive.”

Because of the recent spike in COVID cases, seven Western New York hospitals have to stop all unnecessary elective surgeries effective on Thursday, under NY State Executive Order No. 11, because they do not have more than 10% capacity.

Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center is at 87% capacity and is free to keep doing all elective surgeries according to president and CEO, Joseph Ruffolo. “We’re still offering all surgeries. It’s going to be monitored weekly by the New York State Department of Health and right now we’re (at 87%), below the threshold but with the continued trend of Covid patients, it may come to a point where we’ll have to postpone non-essential patient surgeries.”

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