5% of ECMC hospital staff placed on unpaid leave over refusal to get vaccinated

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Erie County Medical Center Corporation said approximately 5% of its hospital staff and 7% of its overall workforce were placed on unpaid leave Monday as New York state’s Covid-19 vaccine requirement for healthcare workers went into effect.

The overall number includes approximately 20% of staff who did not get vaccinated at the Terrace View Long-Term Care facility for seniors and others needing long-term care, which is located on the ECMC campus.

ECMC put a contingency plan in place last week that cuts back on some services to deal with any worker shortages. Gov. Kathy Hochul has said she is prepared to call in medically trained National Guard members, retirees, or vaccinated workers from outside the state to fill any gaps. 

Services that ECMC is limiting include:

  • Suspension of elective inpatient surgeries (elective outpatient surgeries will not be suspended).
  • Temporarily not accepting ICU transfers from other area institutions, except for critical trauma cases.
  • Reduction of units at Terrace View Long-Term Care facility.
  • Reduction of hours at ECMC’s outpatient clinics, so staff can support inpatient care in the main hospital.

Vaccine requirements are becoming more common across the country since the Food and Drug Administration gave the Pfizer vaccine full approval late last month.

Covid-19 cases in Western New York continue to rise as the delta variant spreads. The region reported more than 220 people hospitalized due to Covid over the weekend, matching levels seen during the initial wave of the pandemic in April and May 2020, according to data from the state’s Covid-19 dashboard. ICU rates, however, have not spiked quite as drastically as overall hospitalization rates during the current wave thanks in part to vaccines.

More than 65% of all Erie County residents have gotten at least one dose of a vaccine, according to the state’s latest numbers, including 77% of people 18 or older. Numbers are lagging behind in surrounding counties, especially in the Southern Tier. Allegany County is the least-vaccinated county in the state, reporting just 42% of resident who have received at least one dose.

Nick Veronica is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team as a Digital Executive Producer in 2021. He previously worked at NBC Sports and The Buffalo News. You can follow Nick on Facebook and Twitter and find more of his work here.

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