Stony Brook Hospital suspended 133 employees without pay on Sept. 29 after they failed to show COVID-19 vaccination proof, according to Stony Brook officials.
All suspended employees will meet with hospital labor representatives in the next two weeks to discuss their options. Furloughed employees may use any vacation or holiday time they may have during their suspension. Stony Brook Hospital will fire all employees who remain noncompliant in accordance with the New York State Department of Health vaccination mandate at the end of the suspension period.
The vaccine mandate, passed by former Governor Andrew Cuomo in August, went into effect on Sept. 28. The law requires all healthcare workers to be vaccinated with “limited exceptions” for medical and religious reasons. So far, almost 95% of Stony Brook Hospital staff have received a COVID-19 vaccine.
“Throughout this unprecedented health crisis, Stony Brook University Hospital has upheld its standard of safety and quality of care for our patients and this remains our highest priority,” Carol A. Gomes, chief executive officer of Stony Brook Hospital, said in a statement to The Statesman. “We are monitoring the current situation and are optimizing preparedness so we can make staffing adjustments as necessary.”
Stony Brook Hospital hosted a job fair on Oct. 5 as part of their rehiring contingency plan. It hired Stony Brook University students to “supplement and support staffing in a variety of areas” throughout the department. The hospital also searched for per diem, part time and agency staff.
“These staffing contingency plans allow us to continue to provide safe staffing and the best possible care to our patients,” Gomes said. “Stony Brook University Hospital has been open throughout the pandemic to serve the community and all services continue to operate as planned.”
Northwell Health, which owns 11 Long Island hospitals, reported firing 1,400 employees across its healthcare system on Oct. 4 after enforcing its own vaccination mandate. Its workforce is now 100% vaccinated. Mount Sinai South Nassau hospital in Oceanside and Catholic Health Services of Long Island also reported furloughing and suspending unvaccinated employees.