Saratoga Hospital to require staff get vaccinated or weekly testing

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PHOTOGRAPHER:

Saratoga Hospital will require its staff to get vaccinated by Sept. 7 or submit to weekly testing for the COVID-19 virus, following a growing trend among hospitals nationwide, the hospital announced Monday.

Hospital staff who do not apply with the new policy will be placed on leave, according to the hospital’s announcement. The policy comes as a new wave of cases is growing across Saratoga County, which over the weekend announced it had reached a “high level of COVID-19 transmission” – with a test positivity rate of nearly 4.5 percent. 

Over a seven-day period, 240 new cases across the county were reported to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the county health services announced Saturday. Since June 6, around 40 percent of reported cases in the county have been among individuals ages 18-39 and another 10 percent of cases have occurred among kids ages 6-11, and around 89 percent of people hospitalized with COVID-19 were not vaccinated, according to the county.

Saratoga Hospital’s new policy, which goes into effect Sept. 7, will require hospital employees to provide proof of vaccination by the Sept. 7 deadline or start weekly testing. The policy does include some exemptions.  

“As Saratoga County’s only hospital and as a major employer, we owe it to patients and staff to do everything possible to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and ensure that our facilities are safe for all who work here and rely on us for care,” Saratoga Hospital President and CEO Angelo Calbone said in a statement. 

Peter Hopper, a spokesperson for Saratoga Hospital, on Monday said 85 percent of the hospital’s staff were currently vaccinated. 

Albany Med announced a similar policy last week. The hospital, which has already offered the vaccine to all of its staff, said over 80 percent of its staff were currently vaccinated. Hospital employees must be vaccinated by Oct. 1. Exemptions and deferrals would be offered on a limited basis, but employees who did not comply would be terminated, according to the Albany-based hospital system. 

“The vaccines have proven to safely and effectively prevent COVID-19 and have reduced symptomatic infections and hospitalizations in breakthrough cases,” Albany Med said last week in announcing its new staff vaccine policy.

The Monday announcement from Saratoga Hospital noted that 90 hospitals and health systems across the country required vaccinations for their staff, a growing trend among hospitals nationwide.

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