UTICA, N.Y. -- MVHS could have lost up to 800 unvaccinated employees to the COVID-19 vaccine mandate. But thanks, in part, to a last-minute surge of shot-seeking workers, that number turned out to be less than 200.
"This morning, 5%, 180 of our employees left our workforce due to the covid vaccine mandate," said MVHS President and CEO, Darlene Stromstad. "I'd say last minute is over the weekend and yesterday, probably about 120. Looking for affirmation, about 120. Yeah, we did vaccines up until 9 o'clock last night."
Stromstad says MVHS received a few resignations over the past several weeks, but that most of the 180 who left, were let go. But they're not terminated, yet. They're on unpaid administrative leave until Oct. 9, in hopes that they get vaccinated and return to their original position and seniority. If they don't, then another, longer, chance.
"On October 9th they will be terminated from employment. If by the 28th of October they change their mind another 21 days, they change their mind they can come back. they'll have to be reinstated as an employee, but we'll reinstate them at the same salary and the same job if available with the same pay rate and seniority," said Stromstad.
MVHS will maintain all hospital-based services, but likely with longer waits.
"We're telling our population to please be prepared for waits, for phone calls that don't get returned right away, for delays in service," says Stromstad.
MVHS has increased their bi-weekly payroll by more than three-quarters of a million dollars, but they still worry about the burnout of remaining staff.
"We have implemented crisis pay which increases our bi-weekly payroll by $770,000. It is encouraging people to come in and to additional shifts but we are concerned they'll end up burning themselves out," says Stromstad.
The pain is universal. Bassett Healthcare is doing outpatient blood draws by appointment only now. Cooperstown Convenient Care is temporarily closed, and patients are being warned that phone call wait times may be longer than usual.