A little over a week ago, we reported on the mass firing that took place at Georgia’s Novant Health, when 175 employees were fired for refusing to get a COVID-19 vaccination — what was then considered the largest-ever mass firing related to vaccination compliance. But now, an even larger firing involving another healthcare provider has broken that record.
The Hill’s Joseph Choi reported that on Monday, Oct. 4, Northwell Health (No. 1 on The DiversityInc Specialty List for Top Hospitals and Health Systems) had fired 1,400 of its employees for failing to comply with New York State’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
In a statement released to The Hill, Joe Kemp, the company’s assistant vice president of public relations, confirmed that “Northwell had terminated 1,400 employees who did not get vaccinated as was ordered by former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.” Choi also reported that the fired employees “represented almost 2% of Northwell’s workforce of more than 76,000 who are [now] all immunized against COVID-19.”
“Northwell Health is proud to announce that our workforce – the largest in New York State – is 100% vaccinated,” the company statement continued. “This allows us to continue to provide exceptional care at all of our facilities without interruption and remain open and fully operational.”
The health care provider added that its “rapid, aggressive approach” was an essential step needed to ensure full vaccine compliance within its workforce while also allowing for continuing critical patient care.
“Northwell regrets losing any employees under such circumstances. [However], we owe it to our staff, our patients and the communities we serve to be 100% vaccinated against COVID-19,” the company said.
On Sept. 27, shortly before he stepped down as Governor, Andrew Cuomo announced New York state’s COVID-19 vaccine requirements, which required all healthcare workers to be inoculated against COVID-19.
“We must now act again to stop the spread,” Cuomo said after announcing the mandate. “Our health care heroes led the battle against the virus, and now we need them to lead the battle between the variant and the vaccine.”
Northwell’s vaccination policy was established even before the state had made it mandatory. The health care provider announced in August 2021 that it would enact a vaccine mandate to properly protect all of its workers against COVID-19.
“Our goal was not to terminate employees,” Kemp told Reuters at the time. “Our goal was to get people vaccinated.”
Despite the firings, New York’s healthcare worker vaccine mandate appears to be paying off after less than two weeks of implementation. According to current state data, Choi reported that “87% of hospital staff were fully vaccinated as of last week, and 92% of both hospital and retirement home workers were at least partially vaccinated.”