With day left until vaccine mandate kicks in, Strong Memorial Hospital holds clinic for staff

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC)— With just a day before healthcare workers could face losing their job if they don’t get vaccinated, Strong Memorial Hospital Sunday held a clinic to help remaining staff members get the shot.

Strong’s Chief Operating Officer Kathy Parrinello stopped by to thank those staff members who got vaccinated, saying they are helping to keep the hospital open and safe.

Monday’s mandate, first introduced by then New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo requires healthcare workers to have at least one dose of the vaccine. Hospital leaders with the University of Rochester Medical Center said 99% of professional medical staff and 91% of all employees across the six UR hospitals were partially or fully vaccinated as of last Monday.

A federal judge in Utica extended a temporary restraining order until at least Oct. 12, for those who claim a religious exemption to getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Gov. Kathy Hochul is still holding firm on the mandate, saying that healthcare workers who don’t get vaccinated will be replaced.

UR’s Chief Medical Officer Michael Apostolakos said hospitals are developing flexible contingency plans based on best-case and worst-case scenarios depending on how staff members choose not to get the vaccine.

Hochul outlined a plan of her own on Saturday. As part of it, she could declare a State of Emergency that seeks to increase workforce supply and allow qualified health care professionals licensed in other states or countries, recent graduates, retired and formerly practicing health care professionals to practice in New York State.

Thousands of people, including some healthcare workers, rallied outside Strong in opposition to the mandate. One nurse told News10NBC the point of this movement is not against the vaccine, but the freedom of choice.

As for Strong, an additional clinic will be held Monday.