Nurses that were fired for refusing COVID vaccination are starting to receive calls from their former employers. As COVID vaccine mandates come to an end, hospitals are looking to rehire their former nurses.
End of Federal COVID Vaccination Mandate
May 11 marked the official end of the pandemic, including the federal requirements for healthcare worker COVID vaccination. States are starting to follow; New York announced it would no longer enforce its mandate while the state’s Health Department works to officially repeal the law. Individual healthcare facilities may still require COVID vaccination as a condition of employment, but that will now be an organizational policy versus a government requirement.
St. Joseph Health system in Syracuse announced that they are actively reaching out to over 100 nurses they fired for refusing COVID vaccination. In a statement, Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Philip Falcone, said: “Colleagues and job applicants, including former colleagues who may have exited the organization when the vaccine mandate was implemented, are now eligible for an exemption. Our Talent Acquisition team is actively contacting our former colleagues, encouraging them to consider returning to the organization.”
St. Joseph has open positions for about 80% of the nurses who were terminated. Other organizations will likely start similar recruiting measures in an effort to relieve nationwide nursing shortages.
Healthcare worker COVID vaccine mandates sparked controversy from the beginning. The intent was to protect healthcare workers and vulnerable patients at healthcare organizations that accept reimbursement from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
The vast majority of nursing and healthcare staff got vaccinated, but a small percentage held out. Several class action lawsuits filed by healthcare workers against state governments and healthcare organizations have succeeded. One health system in Chicago agreed to a $10.3 million settlement with its workers over the vaccine mandate.
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Dr. Falcone in Syracuse told local news, “We certainly hold no strong feelings against people who left because of this. We understand completely. It was something that we had to do. We did not really have a lot of choice in this matter. So we certainly would welcome back anyone who wants to return to work here. We’d be thrilled.”
Watching the nursing response to the end of federally mandated COVID vaccinations will be interesting. Will they return to their former employers? What would you do? Join the conversation on Nurse.org social media pages.