Charlotte-based hospital system, Novant Health, recently announced that they have suspended 375 employees after the workers failed to comply with the organization’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
Novant had set a deadline of Sept. 15 for all employees to be vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine. Given that the hospital system employs over 35,000 people, the 375 non-compliant staff represents about one percent of its total workforce.
The 375 employees have been given five days to comply with the mandate. “If a team member remains non-compliant after this suspension period, he or she will have their employment with Novant Health terminated,” Novant said in a statement.
Some workers have been given a religious or medical exemption. They will have to undergo weekly COVID-19 testing and wear N95 masks or other personal protection equipment during working hours. Employees who have begun their two-dose vaccination regiment have until Oct. 15 to be fully vaccinated. According to the company, 98.6 percent of its workforce is compliant with the vaccination mandate.
Novant is one of the largest hospital systems in Charlotte, North Carolina. Atrium Health, another large hospital system in the region, has also issued a vaccine mandate for its employees, with a deadline for compliance set for Oct. 31.
Novant’s expulsion of employees comes on the heels of Indiana University Health announcing the termination of 125 workers due to non-compliance with their vaccine mandate.
Healthcare facilities are increasingly insisting that employees get vaccinated against COVID-19 following President Joe Biden’s recent announcement that all healthcare workers in hospitals that accept Medicaid and Medicare are to be vaccinated.
Hospitals that do not comply with the order might lose out on their Medicare and Medicaid programs, thus leaving them no choice but to comply with Washington’s policy.
On Sept. 16, 24 Republican Attorneys General wrote a letter to President Biden, asking him to “alter” course with regard to the vaccine mandate, failing which they will use “every available legal option” to hold him accountable.
“Mr. President, your vaccination mandate represents not only a threat to individual liberty, but a public health disaster that will displace vulnerable workers and exacerbate a nationwide hospital staffing crisis, with severe consequences for all Americans,” the letter said.
Healthcare workers are put in a difficult position due to mandates as the only alternative is to quit. “Whenever it’s my own decision, then I felt better about it versus being forced to, so now it’s either you get vaccinated or you don’t have a job… That kind of takes away your freedom a little bit,” 32-year-old personal care assistant Kimberly Simonson said to Health News Florida.
Vaccine mandate driving labor shortage
A Washington Post/ABC poll published in early September found that a whopping 67 percent of unvaccinated individuals would quit if they were forced to get vaccinated. Vaccination mandates, whether by federal, state, or local governments, create problems for business owners in terms of securing enough labor to conduct business.
For example, New York’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, that came into force on Sept. 13, asks restaurant workers to receive at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to remain employed.
Some restaurant owners are already feeling the heat. In an interview with CNBC, Philippe Massoud, owner and chef at Ilili and Ilili Box, said that he has already lost three workers who did not want to get vaccinated adding that he is finding it difficult to hire workers.
“Certainly, it’s exacerbating the situation… We hope they’ll change their mind down the line. … In addition to all that you’re dealing with the surge of the delta variant, which also creates its own complexity. So, we’re getting hit a bit from everywhere,” Massoud said.