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375 Novant Health Employees Suspended For Not Following COVID Vaccine Policy

Novant Health has temporarily suspended around 375 employees for not following its COVID-19 vaccination policy, the North Carolina-based hospital system said on Tuesday.

All of Novant’s roughly 35,000 workers across North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia were required to receive at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine or obtain an approved medical or religious exemption by Sept. 15. While roughly 99% of employees have complied with the mandate, according to the hospital system, the 375 who have been suspended will be fired if they do not comply within five days.

Novant system employees who have not already done so will need to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 15. Workers with approved religious or medical exemptions will have to take a weekly COVID-19 test.

Novant is based in Winston-Salem but has a major presence in the Charlotte region.

Meanwhile, the other large hospital system in Charlotte, Atrium Health, has mandated all of its teammates, including remote workers, physicians, medical residents, faculty members, fellows, trainees, contractors and volunteers get fully vaccinated by Oct. 31.

An Atrium spokesperson did not immediately respond to an email Tuesday afternoon asking what percentage of the hospital system’s employees had been at least partially vaccinated. Last month, the hospital system declined to share that information.

“We are still in the process of gathering medical and religious exemption requests from our teammates, and those will be considered in the coming weeks,” an Atrium spokesperson said in an emailed statement Aug 31. “As such, it is premature to share any numbers at this time.”

Atrium, Novant and three other North Carolina hospital systems — Cone Health, Duke Health and Wake Forest Baptist — announced in July that they would begin requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for their employees. Six UNC Health hospitals — UNC Medical Center, UNC Rex, UNC Johnston, UNC Chatham, UNC Rockingham and UNC Southeastern — also elected to make vaccines mandatory. The North Carolina Healthcare Association, which has 130 member hospital systems, commended the decision.

“Hospital and health system employee vaccination against COVID-19 is vital to safely care for patients by protecting them from infection, and to mitigate the spread of the virus within healthcare facilities and among clinicians, patients and their families and friends,” the NCHA said in a news release at the time.

Copyright 2021 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.