Local health systems react to injunction allowing religious exemptions for health care workers

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CAPITAL REGION, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Health systems across the Capital Region are reacting following an injunction from a federal judge in Utica to allow health care staff to seek religious exemptions to receiving the COVID vaccine.

Prior to the statewide vaccination mandate, a number of local private health care systems had their own requirements in place, allowing staff to seek religious exemptions.

In response to Tuesday’s injunction, a spokesperson for St. Peter’s Health Partners released the following statement:

“Like every health care organization across New York state, we are watching as the question of religious exemptions for vaccination among health care workers is answered in the courts. Currently, 229 colleagues across our system have been granted a vaccination exemption for religious reasons.”

St. Peter’s Health Partners Spokesperson

At Ellis Medicine, 79 staff members have religious exemptions on file, while 16 employees are currently suspended without pay for not being in compliance with the mandate. Those 79 can continue working as the legal challenges continue, and like everyone, are screened before entering Ellis facilities.

An Ellis Medicine spokesperson released the following statement on vaccination rates:

“In the end, we’ve avoided the worst case scenarios for staffing related to the mandate. While we continue to address staffing challenges alongside countless other hospitals across the country, the broader Ellis team should be commended for trusting the vaccine as a critical weapon against the virus. Their getting the shot goes to the heart of our Core Value of Safety.”

Philip Schwartz, Senior Director of Marketing & Communications, Ellis Medicine

Elsewhere in the Capital Region, the vice president of Glens Falls Hospital says Tuesday’s injunction does not change much at the hospital, as those with religious reasons to not get the shot are able to keep working.

Currently, there are 48 staff members with a religious exemption. These employees are subjected to regular COVID-19 testing and must wear PPE at all times.

Albany Med said they are evaluating the outcome of Tuesday’s ruling.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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