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Nearly 6,000 Atrium Health employees still unvaccinated against COVID-19

Atrium Health

At least 5,750 employees at Atrium Health have still not received a COVID-19 vaccine, leading the Charlotte-based hospital system to push back its original deadline for mandatory vaccination.

As of Wednesday, about 59,000 Atrium team members had gotten at least one dose of a vaccine, hospital system leaders said in an email to employees. Atrium employs roughly 64,750 people across its footprint, not including those who work for a Georgia-based health system called Floyd, which Atrium merged with in July.

Atrium was one of five North Carolina hospital systems that announced over the summer that it would require all of its employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The hospital system 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.”

Atrium originally mandated all of its employees — including remote workers, physicians, medical residents, faculty, fellows, trainees, contractors and volunteers — be fully vaccinated by Oct. 31. If employees chose to request a medical or religious exemption from the vaccine, that exemption had to be approved by the same deadline.

The hospital system has now extended the deadline to be fully vaccinated to Nov. 30, according to the Wednesday email, though teammates are still required to get at least a first dose by Oct. 31. Employees who do not meet the Oct. 31 deadline for a first dose “will no longer be in good standing” and could be fired, the email said.

Last month, Charlotte’s other large hospital system, Novant Health, fired about 175 employees who refused to follow its COVID-19 vaccination policy, after initially suspending 375 unvaccinated workers and giving them five days to come into compliance. Novant required all of its roughly 35,000 workers across North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia to receive at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine or have an approved religious or medical exemption by Sept. 15.

North Carolina hospital systems Cone Health, Duke Health and Wake Forest Baptist — which officially merged with Atrium last year — also announced over the summer that they would mandate vaccines for workers. Six UNC Health hospitals — UNC Medical Center, UNC Rex, UNC Johnston, UNC Chatham, UNC Rockingham and UNC Southeastern — made vaccines mandatory as well.

Copyright 2021 WFAE. To see more, visit WFAE.

Claire Donnelly is WFAE's health reporter. She previously worked at NPR member station KGOU in Oklahoma and also interned at WBEZ in Chicago and WAMU in Washington, D.C. She holds a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University and attended college at the University of Virginia, where she majored in Comparative Literture and Spanish. Claire is originally from Richmond, Virginia. In her free time, Claire likes listening to podcasts and trying out new recipes.
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