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MVHS could lose up to 800 workers over state vaccine mandate

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UTICA, N.Y. – Employees at Mohawk Valley Health System have until Sept. 27 to get the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to a state mandate requiring health care workers to be vaccinated in New York.

MVHS President and CEO Darlene Stromstad says about 20% of the network’s workforce is still unvaccinated. With about 4,000 workers total, that means roughly 800 have decided not to get the shots.

Stromstad said MVHS is now assessing how to handle the potential loss of those workers if they don’t comply.

"So, we right now are going department by department and really trying to identify what we think we will lose because of people quitting or being terminated because they won't get the vaccine," she said. “It's's a great concern. We are looking at where we will either curtail or close services. It’s pretty profound, yes."

Stromstad said the other 80% of workers are either vaccinated or scheduled to get vaccinated, and MVHS is “really proud of those results.”

MVHS, like other hospitals, was facing a staffing shortage even before the pandemic.

According to Stromstad, MVHS is working with other hospitals and organizations to create a strategy to meet patient needs in the case they lose a significant amount of workers.

The hospital system sent letters to workers earlier this week reminding them of the deadline to get vaccinated, saying proof of vaccination or a valid medical exemption is required "as a condition of continued employment."

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