With deadline approaching, Samaritan says more vaccinated

Published: Sep. 24, 2021 at 4:25 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - Samaritan Medical Center has a 90 percent vaccination rate against COVID 19 among its staff.

That, as Monday’s deadline for health care workers to get vaccinated approaches.

Samaritan officials also reported Friday that 80 percent of staff at Samaritan Summit Village are vaccinated, and 83 percent of staff at Samaritan Keep Home are vaccinated.

Still, they believe some people will not be vaccinated, when Monday’s deadline comes and goes.

“I still think we’re going to be near that 50 to 100 range,” said Leslie DiStefano, spokeswoman for the hospital.

“However, it’s really promising to see that the vaccine numbers have increased.”

Samaritan employs 2,300 people, all told.

DiStefano said the hospital will not discontinue or curtail any services it provides, as Lewis County Health System is being forced to do when it comes to delivering babies.

But she cautioned “there will be disruptions. There are capacity constraints that we’re facing, wait times could be longer, the phones may not be answered as quickly as they once were.

“All of those things are absolutely a possibility.”

Samaritan employees who are not vaccinated by Monday will be placed on administrative leave for two weeks. If they don’t start vaccinations during those two weeks, they’re out of a job.

Other north country hospitals reported high vaccination rates Friday.

Carthage Area Hospital said only 32 of its 496 employees had not been vaccinated. It has no plans to reduce any services.

St. Lawrence Health - which operates Gouverneur, Massena and Canton-Potsdam hospitals - reported 95 percent of its employees and vendors are either vaccinated or have exemptions “and that number continues to rise in real time.

“We will be personally reconnecting with each of our undecided staff over the weekend and, while we are hopeful to begin work next week with our existing team of employees, we respect every individual’s personal decision,” said David Acker, President.

River Hospital declined to provide numbers Friday, but a spokeswoman said hospital management does not expect any disruption in service.

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