ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The vaccine mandate for staff at St. Peter’s Health Partners takes effect Tuesday, with those not in compliance receiving notices Tuesday, before the state’s requirement begins on September 27th.
The health system’s Chief Clinical Officer, Dr. Steven Hanks, says those not vaccinated by the state’s hard deadline will initially be put on suspension without pay.
“Affording the colleague the opportunity to still get vaccinated and get reinstated, and a time definite, at which point if they’re not vaccinated, would lead to job termination,” he said.
But there is uncertainty surrounding the extent of New York’s mandate. Unlike the state, St. Peter’s is allowing religious exemptions. However, that part of the state’s requirement is currently held up in federal court.
“I think what happens with those colleagues is really dependent on what happens with this temporary restraining order,” Hanks explained.
The state’s mandate is held up in court after a federal judge in Utica ruled the Department of Health could not enforce a mandate that did not allow health care personnel to seek religious exemptions.
Currently, Hanks says over 90% of staff in acute care in the system’s hospitals are vaccinated.
We’re more concerned in some of the other areas, like our nursing homes, where the vaccination rates are not as high
A number of employees have also resigned prior to the mandate taking effect. With the potential for staffing concerns in the wake of the requirement, St. Peter’s has a number of emergency crisis plans in place.
“It could, for example, include canceling or curtailing elective services, it could include limiting the number of beds that are available, transferring more patients out of the system,” says Hanks.