Mohawk Valley Health System is providing an update on hospital staffing following the deadline for the New York State COVID-19 vaccine mandate for health care workers.

President and CEO Darlene Stromstad says as a result of the mandate, 180 employees have been separated from MVHS, which brings their vacancy rate to 17.5 percent.

Prior to the mandate, the vacancy rate was already 13.7 percent.

“As a healthcare organization, MVHS supports vaccines for COVID as a significant safety tool for our employees, our patients and our community,” said Stromstad.  “However, we also recognize that our employees have the freedom to choose whether or not to get the vaccine.

MVHS is encouraging employees who have not been vaccinated to reconsider getting a vaccine.

Employees who have not been vaccinated have been put on unpaid leave of absence as of today, September 28, until Saturday, October 9.

If they return vaccinated by October 9, they will maintain their position and seniority.

If an employee does not show proof of vaccination by October 9, they’ll be let go.

Their health benefits will continue until the end of the month.

A plan of operation for all services at MVHS has been developed in light of employee losses.

“We are pleased that we will be able to continue all hospital-based services at both the St. Luke’s and St. Elizabeth Campuses,” said Stromstad. “However, it is important to note that the community should expect longer wait times, phones that are not answered as quickly, delays in turnaround time and disruptions to services. In fact, the EDs at both hospitals are already experiencing increased capacity. Therefore, while we don’t want the community to delay necessary care, it is strongly encouraged to seek care for issues that can be handled by a primary care physician or an Urgent Care center at one of those locations first.

Stromstad is asking  community members, patients and patient families to be patient with their employees who are now working harder than ever.

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