Bassett Healthcare Network may lose about 200 workers due to vaccination mandate

Employees at Bassett Health Network who chose not to get vaccinated against Covid-19 will be terminated either today or tomorrow.

Posted: Sep 27, 2021 1:54 PM
Updated: Sep 27, 2021 5:36 PM

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. - Bassett Healthcare Network President and C.E.O. Dr. Tommy Ibrahim says 96% of staff members at Bassett have been vaccinated against Covid-19. That means about 4% are subject to termination either today or tomorrow, depending on when they are scheduled to work, due to the state's healthcare worker vaccination mandate.

The deadline to be vaccinated is today.

Dr. Ibrahim says there are about 5,200 employees in the Bassett network. That means 4% of those workers, or approximately 200, are subject to termination unless they provide proof of vaccination by midnight tonight.

He says this is a tough day for Bassett, "It’s really challenging on the organization. Obviously, these are people that we’ve worked with for a really long time, that were committed to the organization, committed to our mission, and it’s unfortunate but they’ve made a personal choice and we respect that and we'll support them through it."

Dr. Ibrahim says before the state mandate was issued in August, only about 75% of the staff at Bassett was vaccinated. He says getting to 96% by today has been a big accomplishment, "We've had a pretty significant jump and it's just a wonderful testament to our leadership and our people for coming on board. You know we think that there could be some additional folks to jump on board here in the remaining hours and that’s what we’re hoping for and we’re continuing to have those critical conversations with all of our staff members so we’re excited about where we are and hopefully, more as time goes."

Dr. Ibrahim says the 200 workers are spread across the healthcare system and says he expects services to continue without any cutbacks, "We’re obviously preparing for any contingency plans. You know the way it looks right now, services look like they’re going to be definitely continued in the near term here, so we’re very excited about that. We’re having to maybe contract some hours, modify schedules a little bit, but by and large, all services are going to continue moving forward. We think that the safety and the quality of the care will remain exactly the same and we continue to serve the community the best way possible."

Some healthcare systems in the state are reportedly allowing employees to go on unpaid leave if they say they will be getting the vaccine in the near future.  Dr. Ibrahim says that is not an option at Bassett. He says if a worker is not vaccinated by midnight tonight, they will be terminated, "Some people who are working today will be effectively exiting the organization today, others will be effectively exiting tomorrow."

Dr. Ibrahim says he agrees with the state's position that healthcare workers should be vaccinated, "I think in order for us to truly end this pandemic, this is the right thing for us to do, both as a health system, as well as a community to continue to pursue vaccination."

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County data is updated nightly.

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