Nantucket Cottage Hospital Workers Face Mandatory Vax Deadline

A small number of Nantucket Cottage Hospital staff members who remain unvaccinated against COVID-19 face termination of their employment on Friday, as the Mass General Brigham system prepares to enforce an Oct. 15 deadline for its workforce to be vaccinated against the virus. 

The vast majority of Nantucket Cottage Hospital (NCH) healthcare workers – more than 95 percent – are already fully vaccinated, but some holdouts remain. The hospital could not provide an exact number, but like other hospitals in the Mass General Brigham system and across the country, NCH is preparing to take difficult actions – including firing employees – to ensure its workforce and patients are protected from COVID-19. 

With a nursing shortage already impacting the hospital, NCH leaders have taken extra steps to encourage and provide additional opportunities for staff members to get vaccinated. Those efforts included two in-house vaccination clinics for employees only over the past month.

Across the Mass General Brigham system – which includes Mass General and Brigham and Women’s – more than 95 percent of employees have been vaccinated, the Boston Globe reported. But that still leaves about 4,000 employees across the system at risk of being fired. It’s unclear how many of those work at NCH. 

Gary Shaw, President and CEO of Nantucket Cottage Hospital, said the organization has worked to ensure any potential firings do not impact patient care. 

“The COVID-19 vaccines currently available have proven to be safe and effective in study after study,” said NCH President and CEO Gary Shaw. “As we approach the Mass General Brigham deadline for all staff members to receive their vaccinations, we have increased staffing and capacity around many of our critical clinical functions to ensure any potential impact to our workforce won’t impact patient care or access. At the end of the day, this policy is about improving the patient experience by ensuring that our staff members aren’t putting patients at risk for COVID-19 infection when they walk through our doors.”

Asked for a specific number of employees who remain unvaccinated, hospital public information officer James Lanza said he did not have a complete number, only that “more than” 95 percent of NCH staff members were vaccinated. The hospital administration has worked with MGB through the process to evaluate religious and medical exemptions. 

“We’re not expecting mass layoffs or firings,” Lanza said. “We’ll have a clear answer on this as time moves forward. But the policy is not unique to NCH or MGB. It’s being implemented across the national as health care facilities have mandated COVID-19 vaccinations.”

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