BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Time has run out for hundreds of local healthcare employees who were not comfortable getting the COVID-19 vaccination.

After a series of medical and religious exemption deadlines this fall, the final numbers are out , Kaleida Health has terminated 200 employees for refusal to get a Covid shot. Catholic Health is sending termination letters on Tuesday to 2% of it’s workforce for the same reason, and the state’s mandate for all healthcare workers to be vaccinated resulted in 106 employees being terminated at ECMC, or about 3% of its workforce. Niagara Falls Memorial medical center lost 40 employees.

Although this was not a county mandate, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz supports the decision. “Many of the illnesses and deaths that were caused to nursing home patients last year were brought in by the staff who were positive and were sharing it with the residents they were taking care of because they didn’t know they were positive.”

Because of the recent spike in Covid cases, seven local hospitals must stop all unnecessary elective surgeries effective on Thursday, under NY State Executive Order #11, because they do not have more than 10% capacity. Those hospitals are; ECMC, Mercy, Sisters of Charity, Mount St. Mary’s, WCA in Jamestown, Brooks in Dunkirk and Wyoming County Community Hospital.

No Kaleida hospitals were on that list so Kaleida will still be doing non-essential outpatient elective surgeries at Buffalo General and Millard Suburban and so will Kenmore Mercy.

Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center is at 87% capacity and is free to keep doing all elective surgeries according to president and CEO, Joseph Ruffolo. “We’re still offering all surgeries. It’s going to be monitored weekly by the New York State Department of Health and right now we’re (at 87%), below the threshold but with the continued trend of Covid patients, it may come to a point where we’ll have to postpone non-essential patient surgeries.”

George Richert is an award-winning reporter who first joined the News 4 team in 1998, later returning in 2018. See more of his work here.

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