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An emergency room in Long Beach, New York, closed down on Monday after state law forced all of its unvaccinated medical workers from their jobs.
The Mount Sinai South Nassau hospital closed its freestanding emergency room in Long Beach and redirected staff to its main campus in Oceanside, New York, the hospital said in a statement. The “temporary” closure could last up to four weeks and potentially longer depending on the availability of staff, the hospital said.
The New York State Department of Health’s (NYSDOH) vaccine mandate for medical workers does not allow workers to claim a religious exemption for the vaccine. The policy was tied up in court due to legal challenges. A federal court ruled in favor of the state last month, according to The New York Times.
The hospital said in part:
The staffing shortage and closure of the LBED is a result of the Hospital’s compliance with the NYSDOH’s mandate issued Thursday, requiring the suspension of all staff working under temporary religious exemptions who could not show proof today of receiving a first dose of COVID-19 vaccination or a valid medical exemption from receiving it.
More than 99 percent of Mount Sinai South Nassau’s staff are fully vaccinated, not counting those who sought religious or medical exemptions. Mount Sinai South Nassau is actively recruiting experienced and qualified staff who can document either a first dose COVID-19 vaccination or a valid medical exemption so that it can resume full operations of the Long Beach Emergency Department on or about December 15, 2021.
“We regret having to take this step but the safety of our patients is always our No. 1 priority,” hospital president Adhi Sharma said in a statement. “This will allow us to shift nursing staff to the Oceanside campus to ensure that we maintain adequate staffing at the Emergency Department at our main campus.”
“We are committed to serving residents of the barrier island,” Sharma added. “This closure should not be interpreted as anything beyond what it is – a temporary measure designed to relieve current staffing challenges in our Emergency Department. Our nurses, physicians and support staff have been on the frontlines of the pandemic for more than 21 months. We will continue to be there for our patients.”
Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the state-wide vaccine mandate for healthcare workers on August 16, days before he stepped down as governor in the wake of scandals over providing false COVID death data and allegations of sexual misconduct.
In states such as Florida and Texas, Republican governors have taken the opposite approach, pushing back against moves by the Biden administration to mandate vaccines and testing by signing legislation banning such mandates. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation last week banning requirements that one must be vaccinated in order to retain a job.
“Today, we lift people up. We provide protections for people: no nurse, no firefighter, no police officer, no trucker, no anybody should lose their job because of these COVID jabs,” DeSantis said.