ChristianaCare fires about 150 over vaccine mandate
CHRISTIANA – ChristianaCare has terminated about 150 employees over their refusal to get vaccinated or obtain an exemption under a mandate it announced in July to ensure that its staff was nearly entirely vaccinated against COVID-19.
The decision by Delaware’s largest health care provider and private employer made it a lightning rod for criticism by conservatives and some employees. Several rallies held outside of its Christiana headquarters campus decried the measure made before President Joe Biden said that he would direct the same of most hospitals nationwide.
ChristianaCare President and CEO Dr. Janice Nevin reported Monday, a week after the deadline for the mandate, that separations for non-compliance with the system’s vaccination policy – including both resignations and firings – resulted in the loss of approximately 150 employees, or about 90 full-time equivalents (FTEs). She emphasized that, of those, fewer than 48 FTEs provided direct patient care, and fewer than 12 FTEs were nurses.
About 200 caregivers have received religious or medical accommodations, and in addition to masking, they will be required to undergo regular COVID-19 testing.
Despite those losses, Nevin said the health system will actually have more workers than before due to hiring more than 200 new caregivers, including 160 working in direct patient care, in the last month.
“These new caregivers join an organization in which they can be confident that their colleagues are vaccinated and that their organization is a leader in COVID-19 safety,” Nevin said in a statement. “We thank everyone who has made the decision to be vaccinated. Getting vaccinated is a service to others – especially our health care workers, who continue to battle COVID-19 daily as we meet the health care needs of our community. Vaccination continues to be our path not only to protect each other — but to ultimately reduce the spread of COVID-19 and end this pandemic.”
When ChristianaCare announced its hardline policy on July 29, about 30% of the health system’s roughly 14,500 employees were not fully vaccinated. The policy applies to all employees regardless of the type of work they do, including medical-dental staff, residents, students, contracted employees, temporary labor, volunteers and vendors. That means the policy was effective in pushing the system’s vaccination rate from about 69% to about 97% in about two months.
At the time, Nevin said that the rising COVID-19 case count, spurred by the highly transmissible delta variant, caused the health care system to mandate the vaccine after months of encouraging staff to get vaccinated but stopping short of requiring it.
Both Nemours and Trinity Health Mid-Atlantic have implemented the same policies in their systems. Nemours has an Oct. 6 deadline to comply while Trinity’s also passed Sept. 21, but has not yet announced any terminations.
Mary Wascavage, regional communications director for Trinity Health, told DBT that about 96% of its workers are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or have an approved medical or religious exemption. A final count on the employment roll was not yet available as vaccination documentation was still being processed, she said.
“The COVID-19 vaccine is the single most effective tool in slowing, and even stopping, the spread of this deadly virus and will prevent the emergence of new variants. As health care professionals, it is the right thing to do to protect ourselves as well as our patients, families and communities – especially the most vulnerable,” Wascavage added.
Editor’s Note: This story originally reported that a “small number of employees” resigned in addition to the 150. In fact, the 150 includes resignations where the vaccine mandate was the explicit reason for an employee’s departure.