By Jack Phillips
Some hospitals in New York state are bracing for disruptions due to staff shortages triggered by a COVID-19 vaccine mandate that took effect on Sept. 27 for health care workers.
“We’re anticipating a problem,” said Michael Balboni, executive director of the Greater New York Health Care Facilities Association, according to The Wall Street Journal. “There are already many nursing homes that have not been taking new admissions over the last weeks, and looking at their staffing routines so they basically stretch.”
Ahead of anticipated staffing problems, Democrat Gov. Kathy Hochul said on Sept. 25 she was prepared to activate National Guard members who have medical training to replace health care workers. She said providers can allow workers licensed in other states and countries, as well as recent graduates and retired health care professionals, to work in the state.
Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, located upstate, announced it would pause some elective procedures for two weeks over the shortages, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center, which operates the facility.
“Patients can expect longer wait times for routine appointments, some employees will be asked to take on new responsibilities, and temporary bed closures are possible,” the University of Rochester said in a statement, although it stressed that emergency services and critical care will continue.
The Rochester-area “hospitals will remain open for business and ready to provide essential care for patients,” Michael Apostolakos, the operator’s chief medical officer, said in a Sept. 23 statement. “We encourage every member of the public to get vaccinated against COVID, and please don’t put off seeking medical care whenever you need it.”
COVID-19 is the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
According to Hochul’s office, about 84 percent of health care workers in the state are vaccinated, meaning that 16 percent aren’t. The governor’s plan “includes preparing to sign an executive order if necessary to declare a state of emergency that seeks to increase workforce supply.”
On Sept. 24, a hospital in Lowville, located in upstate New York, stopped delivering babies—at least temporarily—as several employees who worked in the maternity ward resigned over the vaccine mandate.
In August, then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat who resigned over alleged inappropriate behavior with staffers, issued an executive order that health care workers in the state have to get their first CCP virus vaccine shot by Sept. 27.
And on Sept. 9, President Joe Biden announced that health care workers at facilities that receive Medicaid or Medicare funding have to get vaccinated, with no exceptions, and White House officials have estimated that 50,000 such employees would be affected nationwide.