PROVIDENCE – Benefiting from weeks of warnings and intensive planning, state hospitals on Friday reported no incidents and few service disruptions on the first day of the state’s COVID vaccination mandate for workers in health.
Reallocations, extra shifts and the use of contract workers in some cases were among the measures used to avoid disruption. The calls were also helpful for people with non-life-threatening illnesses to visit their doctors’ offices or emergency care centers instead of hospital emergency departments, executives said.
The high vaccination rates, officials said, also contributed significantly to what has been described as a smooth transition day.
Yet several hundred workers at various hospitals have refused immunizations before the Oct. 1 deadline and risk being made redundant if they do not get the vaccine, which executives hope they will.
“Things have gone pretty well so far,” said Cathy Duquette, executive director of nursing for Lifespan, in a video interview on Friday. “We are operational. All our services are operational. All of our planning over the past few weeks through this has been very effective. So we’re doing well.
Duquette said “We’re 98-99% compliance at 5:30 am this morning… that translates to just under 400 staff across the system not demonstrating compliance. They weren’t allowed to work, Duquette said.
Lifespan, the state’s largest healthcare system, owns Rhode Island, Miriam, Hasbro Children’s, Newport, and Bradley hospitals. It employs around 17,000 people.
Speaking to the Journal early Friday afternoon, Dr James E. Fanale, president and CEO of Care New England, Rhode Island’s second-largest healthcare system, said “everything is fully operational right now.” at Kent, Butler and Women & Infants. Hospitals.
Fanale said 95% of Care New England employees are fully vaccinated, and an additional 2% have received the first of two vaccines. This translates to “between 200 and 300” employees out of a workforce of nearly 8,000 who have not been vaccinated, he said.
“At the end of the day, if they choose to get the shot, we’ll obviously bring them back,” Fanale said. “But as of today, they can’t work. So they’re in a sort of suspended status, and they have a few weeks to determine if they want to get the shot. “
If they don’t, Fanale said, “during the month of October their employee status will no longer be.”
At Lifespan, Duquette said, “There has been a subset of the 400 who have been very clear to us that they are definitely not getting vaccinated, and we have already started separating them from their jobs. But there are some who may not have realized the gravity of the situation, and they have one last chance to get the vaccine today. “
Beyond Friday, Duquette said, anyone as yet unvaccinated who decides to get vaccinated would be welcome on Lifespan – if not in their old job, then somewhere in the system.
Following:RI Executives Expect No Interruption in Patient Care as Time Presses for Health Workers to Get Vaccinated
Following:Cranston dentist says he will challenge RI’s vaccination mandate
Following:Rotary judge rejects challenge to state immunization mandate on religious grounds
Other hospitals and groups in IR
Friday operations were normal at Roger Williams Medical Center and Notre-Dame de Fatima Hospital in North Providence, the two CharterCARE hospitals, according to CharterCARE spokesperson Otis Brown.
“CharterCARE employees who work today are 100% compliant with the vaccination mandate,” Brown wrote in an email. “We are still in the process of determining the immunization status of approximately 2% of the workforce; this group has been suspended from its functions effective today. They will have until October 15 to start their vaccination process or they will be made redundant. There has been no impact or disruption to our services.
In Woonsocket, Historic medical center Spokeswoman Carolyn Kyle told the Journal that as of Friday, “97% of the 1,159 employees at Landmark Medical Center are vaccinated. Pursuant to a 30-day extension issued by the governor’s office and [the state Health Department], Landmark accepts the extension to address unvaccinated employees essential to the organization. “
She added, “All unvaccinated employees must wear full PPE, including the premium N95 mask, and be tested for COVID twice a week. Landmark will ensure that the state deadline of November 1 is met.
Speaking for West Hospital, spokesperson Fiona Phelan told the Journal:
“Fewer than half a dozen employees are affected by Rhode Island’s vaccination deadline mandate that went into effect today. Although each of these employees was granted a religious exemption by [parent group] Yale New Haven Health, the exemption is not recognized by Rhode Island. In a late afternoon update, Phelan said one of the employees who requested the exemption received a first blow on Friday and remains employed.
Anitra L. Galmore, South County HealthThe head nurse / director of operations at, said in a statement: “We are grateful that our staff have answered the call and we are 100% in compliance with the vaccine mandate as of October 1, 2021. .. South County Health has been proactive in putting contingency plans in place to minimize the impact on our workforce and our ability to serve the community.
United nurses and paramedical professionals spokesperson Brad Dufault wrote in an email that the union, which represents approximately 6,000 workers in the state, is “pleased with the number of nurses and health professionals who have chosen to be vaccinated in the country. over the past few days and weeks. Although we do not have exact figures, we estimate that over 97% of UNAP members are now vaccinated, allowing them to continue working and providing quality patient care in a safe environment.
“UNAP strongly urges all of our members who have not yet been vaccinated to get immunized immediately so they can get to work as soon as possible and help alleviate any staff shortages. “
Department of Health Friday afternoon, spokesperson Joseph Wendelken told the Journal in an email that “approved health facilities have until the end of the day to submit information on the COVID-19 vaccination rates of their health workers “.
The first submissions that arrived earlier than expected, he wrote, indicated at 8:30 a.m. Friday that these early reporting entities, which only include some in the state, “had a vaccination rate or 94% medical exemption. Out of 15,152 workers at these facilities, 14,162 were vaccinated and 99 received medical exemptions. “
Pursuit, Slater Hospital
Meanwhile, the trial challenging the religiously-based mandate of healthcare workers is now moving to the preliminary injunction phase. U.S. District Court Judge Mary S. McElroy on Thursday dismissed the workers’ request for a temporary restraining order to prevent the state from enforcing the warrant.
Joseph S. Larisa Jr. had asked on behalf of the four anonymous medical workers that the case be treated as a preliminary injunction so that it could be appealed immediately.
“Beyond my clients, it’s a sad day,” Larisa said. “There are a large number of healthcare professionals who were heroes during the pandemic and today they are losing their jobs.”
As of Thursday, a total of 68 unvaccinated staff at the state-run Veterans Home and Eleanor Slater Hospital were deemed “essentially necessary for operations” and allowed to continue working past the deadline for immunization on Thursday. October 1st.
A total of five unvaccinated Rhode Island Veterans Home employees were deemed non-essential and placed on unpaid leave of up to 75 days.
That means little immediate disruption, but a sword of Damocles still hangs over the heads of unvaccinated workers. It is not yet known how many of these unvaccinated health workers were able to take advantage of the state-offered pop-up vaccination clinics on Thursday to administer the one-dose injections of Johnson & Johnson.
With reports from editors Antonia Noori Farzan, Katherine Gregg, Katie Mulvaney and Jack Perry.
COVID in numbers
IR cases: 172,719 (358 reported Friday)
Negative IR tests: 5,119,568 (17,307 reported Friday; 2.0% positive rate)
COVID-related deaths at RI: 2,838 (0 reported Friday)
Rhode Islanders hospitalized with COVID: 122 (13 in intensive care)
Fully vaccinated in IR: 715 688 (780 140 at least partially vaccinated)
Case in Mass. : 811 951
Mass. COVID-related deaths: 18,627
US cases: 43,481,064
COVID-related deaths in the United States: 698,301