Oswego Health COO hopes hospital workers ‘believe in this vaccine’ before losing their jobs in two weeks

Local News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Based on current state data, hospitals around Central New York could lose 10% or more of their workforces if those staff members decided not to get vaccinated in two weeks.

New York State’s Department of Health requires all workers of hospitals and medical facilities to be vaccinated before showing up to work on Monday, September 27.

The rule is not just for doctors and nurses.

“It’s pretty much everybody,” said Oswego Health Chief Operating Officer Michael Backus in an interview with NewsChannel 9. “Everybody that receives a check from Oswego Health or any of those covered entities is under this mandate.”

He said Oswego Health’s vaccination rate is up to 87%, updated from 83% as reported last week by the State Health Department.

Backus admits his goal of 100% participation rate is lofty.

“Some of the folks I’ve had conversations with have gotten the vaccine,” said Backus. “Some have still chosen not to.”

He says the reasons his staff members are deciding against it ranges from political opinions to personal versions to religious reasons.

He says, “it’s our job to say to them: ‘Here’s what we know. Here are the facts. Here’s what we believe. We believe in this vaccine.'”

Percentage of hospital workers fully vaccinated as of September 7:

  • Guthrie Cortland Medical Center: 89%
  • Upstate University Hospital: 88%
  • Crouse Hospital: 87%
  • Oswego Hospital: 87%*
  • Auburn Memorial Hospital: 77%
  • Upstate’s Community General Hospital: 82%
  • Faxton-St. Luke’s Healthcare (Utica): 79%
  • St. Joseph’s Hospital: 77%
  • Oneida Health Hospital: 75%
  • Rome Memorial Hospital: 75%
  • St. Elizabeth Medical Center (Utica): 75%

(*Monday’s updated number according to Oswego Health. NYSDOH reported 83% for Oswego Health.)

Based on state percentages, thousands of people still need to get vaccinated before the state deadline. If not, they’ll lose their jobs forcing hospitals to move around personnel to continue operating.

In Oswego, the COO says he’ll make sure the emergency department and maternity ward are appropriately staffed. Other services and temporary interruptions will be assessed once final vaccine data is known.

Last week, a Lewis County hospital said it would pause its baby delivery services because unvaccinated nurses are resigning.

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