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Strong loses more than 200 clinical employees due to vaccine mandate

Strong Memorial Hospital at the University of Rochester Medical Center.
Strong Memorial Hospital at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

Less than a third of the roughly 300 clinical employees at Strong Memorial Hospital who had remained unvaccinated against COVID-19 as of Monday’s deadline changed their minds, hospital officials said.

New York state health care workers who previously had religious exemptions had until midnight Monday to get at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine or face termination.

On Tuesday, Strong officials reported that 220 of those unvaccinated employees continued to refuse the vaccine. They said the institution will treat them as voluntarily resigning.

The state mandate went into effect after the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against religious exemptions for staff working in clinical spaces.

Parrinello said the hospital has been preparing for the staffing shortage this may create.

“We're really grateful that many of our employees have decided to pick up extra shifts as well as some of our new hires that we've hired since the fall are coming off their orientation period, so they'll be able to work independently,” Parrinello said during a media briefing Monday.

Parrinello said that even though they hate to see employees resign, it will have very little impact on the hospital’s ability to give quality care to patients.

"Every day we look at the number of patients needing care, we look at the number of staff we have, and we are minimizing to the extent possible, any delay that people may experience,” Parrinello said.

She said Strong Hospital will welcome back employees who later choose to get the vaccine.

“We've expressed to all of them that if they change their mind over the next coming weeks, and they agree to get vaccinated, we would be pleased to employ them again,” Parrinello said.