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Health

Roughly 325 Atrium Health employees missed COVID-19 vaccine deadline

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Atrium Health has offered “career transition services” to its workers who did not comply with Atrium’s COVID-19 vaccine policy, the Charlotte-based hospital system said Wednesday.

Atrium spokesperson Dan Fogleman declined to say whether the employees had been fired.

In an emailed statement, Atrium said that “more than 99.5%” of nearly 65,000 Atrium workers had complied with the hospital system’s requirement to either be fully vaccinated or obtain an approved medical or religious exemption by Nov. 30. That would leave roughly 325 workers out of compliance.

“We have been very clear with our teammates about the consequences of not meeting our vaccination requirement,” the statement said. “Because we still deeply care for the very few who have chosen to not be in compliance, we have offered them career transition services.”

In October, Atrium pushed back its COVID-19 vaccine deadline for employees from Oct. 31 to Nov. 30. Four other North Carolina hospital systems also announced over the summer that they would require all of their employees to get vaccinated or obtain a medical or religious exemption. Atrium’s vaccine policy included physicians and nurses as well as remote workers, medical residents, faculty, fellows, trainees, contractors and volunteers.

When it initially announced the policy, Atrium called vaccination “the single most effective tool we have to stop the spread of this virus and keep the patients in our care safe from COVID-19.”

Novant Health, which is based in Winston-Salem but has a large presence in Charlotte, in September fired more than 100 employees who did not comply with its vaccine policy. The hospital system had previously suspended 375 workers for noncompliance. Novant employs roughly 35,000 workers across the Carolinas and Georgia.

In November, President Joe Biden issued a national vaccine mandate for health care workers at facilities that receive federal funding. That requirement was set to take effect next week but on Tuesday a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction , halting its start.

In its statement Wednesday, Atrium Health said that the federal mandate, barring any legal challenges, “makes it clear that anyone working in a health care setting can likely expect COVID-19 vaccination to be a condition of employment going forward.”

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