North Carolina hospital system fires 175 for failing to comply with COVID-19 vaccine mandate


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A North Carolina-based hospital system said about 175 of its more than 35,000 employees have been fired for failing to comply with its COVID-19 vaccination requirement.


Novant Health, a Winston-Salem-based system with 15 hospitals and hundreds of clinics and outpatient facilities, announced last week that 375 workers had been suspended and five to comply with the mandate — with a September 24 deadline. The time of day was given.

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About 200 of those employees came into compliance, Novant Health spokeswoman Megan Rivers said in an email Monday — resulting in about 175 terminations.

Novant Health has more than 35,000 employees in hospitals, 800 clinics and hundreds of outpatient facilities. According to a statement, more than 99% of its employees are now complying with vaccine mandates, including employees who have submitted approved religious or medical vaccine exemptions.

Novant workers who received the first two-dose vaccine, either Pfizer or Moderna, have until October 15 to receive a second dose, officials said.

related: Biden announces vaccine mandate for employers with more than 100 employees

Employees who have an approved vaccine exemption must have weekly COVID-19 tests, wear N95 masks or other PPE, and wear eye protection when working on Novant Health premises, according to the hospital system. Novant Health did not say how many discounts were given.

David Priest, senior vice president and chief safety, quality and epidemiology officer at Novent, the departure will not affect staff in the hospital system – who noted that it has been hiring temporary staff members throughout the pandemic.

“We haven’t had a major impact on staff related to our vaccination program,” Priest said at a briefing on Tuesday. “I think the mood is good. When you think about what health care has been like over the last 19 months… I can’t be prouder about how they’ve come through it all.”

“The most important thing we do is to keep patients safe,” Priest continued. “Our sacred responsibility is to ensure that people are not harmed when they come to any of our facilities.”

FILE – A patient receives a Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at McLeod Health Clarendon Hospital on February 17, 2021 in Manning, South Carolina. (Photo: Micah Green/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Priest dismissed those who have criticized the health system’s vaccine mandate, telling reporters, “Social media has a way of amplifying those voices.”

“It doesn’t make sense to me that the non-health care industries would mandate vaccines and not health care when it’s our number one job,” he said. “The number one medical ethical principle is that we do not harm patients or definitively cause their death. It happens before anything else. It comes before my personal preference.”

This week, Novant Health’s hospital system had 350 to 400 COVID-19 patients, a drop from two weeks ago, but still much higher than at the beginning of June – when it was caring for just 100 COVID-19 patients. Had been.

“Hopefully we are headed in the right direction here,” Priest said. “One data point that remains constant is the number of unvaccinated versus unvaccinated patients we are caring for in our hospitals.”

Pujari said that of the COVID-19 patients in the system’s intensive care units, 97% are asymptomatic.

“It still remains a no-vaccination epidemic. Sometimes there are success cases, but you can still see that vaccines are catching on,” he said.

President Joe Biden Earlier this month it was announced that companies with more than 100 employees Vaccination will be needed amid a slashing US vaccine rates and a delta version boosting cases of the new virus. The federal mandate includes health care workers and federal contractors.

related: White House says nearly 200M US adults have had at least 1 COVID-19 vaccine dose

A total of 55.8% of the US population is now fully vaccinated, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows. Of those 12 and older who are eligible to receive the vaccine, a total of 64.9% are fully vaccinated.

COVID-19 cases in the US continue to rise, with an average of seven days of COVID-19 deaths climbing above the 2,000 threshold last week for the first time since March.

Novant Health’s firing is one of the largest staff terminations since hospitals began requiring COVID-19 vaccinations. More than 150 people with Houston Methodist Hospital in Texas He was either fired or resigned in June after requiring a vaccine.

related: More than 150 Houston hospital workers who refused to receive a COVID-19 vaccine have resigned or were fired

This story was reported from Cincinnati. The Associated Press contributed.

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