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Area hospitals see higher vaccination rates among workers as mandate deadline arrives

Published: Sep. 27, 2021 at 5:13 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - As the state’s vaccine mandate for health care workers takes effect, north country hospitals are reporting higher vaccination rates. However, some workers are still holding out.

“At this point, we have 96.14% of staff that are in compliance,” said Leslie DiStefano, Samaritan Medical Center spokesperson.

That number is up from 82% a couple of weeks ago, and 90% since Friday.

DiStefano says the vaccination rate for Watertown’s Samaritan Medical Center’s 2,641 staff members is moving in the right direction. She adds there have been resignations, but no units are in danger of of pausing.

“There has not been any service closures or delays. We know that we will have constraints any time you have a sudden loss of employees,” she said.

DiStefano says there have been some religious and medical exemptions; those workers will have to be tested weekly.

She says staff members at Samaritan Summit Village and home health facilities have until October 7 to get vaccinated since they were not part of the original mandate.

Staff members who don’t meet their respective deadline will be suspended for two weeks. If they don’t comply in that time frame, they’ll be fired.

Lewis County Health System officials say more than 97% of its staff has gotten the shot; 12 employees remain unvaccinated and risk losing their jobs. Officials say 31 staff members have gotten either a religious or medical exemption. They will have to be tested weekly. 36 have resigned.

In St. Lawrence County, Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center officials say 99% of its staff county-wide is vaccinated. Ten employees remain unvaccinated. They have had resignations too, but officials say none of its operations will be paused.

St. Lawrence Health said Monday it’s currently nearing 99 percent compliance. The percentage includes workers who have received at least one dose of the vaccine, or have been granted religious or medical exemptions.

River Hospital declined to share its vaccination numbers with 7 News, but a spokesperson says officials don’t expect a disruption in any hospital services.

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