Strong Memorial Hospital may delay elective surgery scheduling 2 weeks due to staffing

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — URMC released a statement Tuesday saying more than 91 percent of its employees are vaccinated against COVID-19, but it may still need to delay scheduling of elective surgeries once unvaccinated employees are forced out of work.

“As we continue to encourage vaccination, UR Medicine hospitals are working as a system to minimize impacts on patient care after unvaccinated employees are no longer able to work,” the statement says. “One step under consideration at Strong is not to schedule new elective surgeries for the two-week period beginning Sept. 27, which would free up staff who could be redeployed to critical care areas.”

New York State issued a vaccine mandate in August, requiring all hospital and long-term care facility employees to receive at least their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by September 27. That mandate is separate from the federal mandate issued by President Biden regarding businesses with more than 100 employees.

The URMC statement was sent Tuesday in response to a federal judge’s ruling that temporarily blocked New York State from requiring medical workers to be vaccinated. That ruling was issued after a group of health care workers sued, claiming the omission of religious exemptions violated their Constitutional rights.

The URMC statement goes on to say, “We are currently developing and adjusting contingency plans based on many variables, including today’s ruling by a federal judge in Utica regarding the vaccine mandate. We will continue planning as a system to maintain high-quality patient care with minimal disruptions as the mandate deadline approaches, and will communicate more extensively as the impact of this ruling and other details become clear.”

The state has been given a September 22 deadline to respond to that lawsuit.

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