NEW YORK — “This is a lack of patient care,” John Matland said. “This is a lapse in judgment, and it needs to be fixed.”

John Matland has been an imaging technologist at Staten Island University Hospital Northwell Health for 15 years. He says Northwell Health’s recent decision to mandate COVID-19 testing for unvaccinated workers is unfair and unsafe after the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced findings that vaccinated individuals can also spread the delta variant.

What You Need To Know

  • Northwell Health is mandating all unvaccinated employees to undergo weekly testing starting Aug. 16

  • One hospital worker says this is unsafe after CDC reports vaccinated individuals can also spread delta variant

  • The hospital says that those who do not get tested in a timely manner will be penalized up to termination

“We’re supposed to protect our patients and it’s negligent to ignore that 60% to 65% of your staff can spread the disease,” Matland said, “and to prosecute the other 35% to 40% is an asinine approach to me.”

In an email to employees Monday, the hospital wrote, “all Northwell team members are required to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Anyone not fully vaccinated will be required to be tested for COVID-19 on a weekly basis beginning August 16. Those who fail to get tested in a timely manner will face adverse action that could progress up to and include termination.”

Matland says employees have not been routinely tested, and believes this is a tactic to force employees to get the shot. He shared a screenshot from a focus group that the hospital organized which asked employees what they think would motivate members to be vaccinated. Required regular PCR testing is one of the options:

“If you don’t test everybody, you’re not solving any problem,” Matland said.

According to the CDC and health officials, those who are vaccinated against COVID-19 can still contract the virus, but their chances of becoming extremely ill or dying are much lower than those who are unvaccinated.

Matland says his decision to not get inoculated comes after a lot of research, and he believes Northwell’s new mandate discriminates against the personal choice of those on the front lines throughout the pandemic.

“Life is one ginormous risk after another. And, for me, I’ve looked at my own medical history, my age and no comorbidities,” Matland said. “We still don’t know long-term results because we need that time to elapse.”

“If you told me there weren't reactions at this rate and that you could not spread the disease — I’m not an anti-vaxxer, I’ve gotten my flu shot many years in a row,” Matland added.

NY1 reached out to Northwell Health and it sent us a statement reiterating its new testing requirement: “As New York State’s largest private employer and health care provider, we believe it is our obligation to set an example for the community by getting our team members vaccinated.”

Matland wrote a detailed letter to Northwell suggesting that it change the testing requirement for all employees. He has yet to hear back.


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