- Title: New York hospitals face staff shortages as vaccine mandate kicks in
- Date: 27th September 2021
- Summary: NEW YORK, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES (SEPTEMBER 27, 2021) (REUTERS) NEW YORK GOVERNOR KATHY HOCHUL TOURING VACCINATION SITE (SOUNDBITE) (English) NEW YORK GOVERNOR, KATHY HOCHUL, SAYING: "Today is a significant deadline. It reflects my priority to stop this virus dead in its tracks. We are over it. We are done. We want to move on. And the only way we can do that is to ensure that everyone is vaccinated, but particularly individuals who are taking care of the people who are sick. And I'm talking about the confidence that people need to have. Whether you're an expectant mom heading into the hospital, checking in, an anxious time in your life, you need to be assured that the person taking care of you is not going to give COVID to you or your newborn. Can't we just say that that is a basic right that everyone has to know that they'll be safe when they enter a healthcare facility? Or you have your elderly parents or grandparents in a nursing home that they will not get sick because of someone who's charged with their care. We're talking about just common sense here, my friends." HOCHUL'S 'VAXED' NECKLACE (SOUNDBITE) (English) NEW YORK GOVERNOR, KATHY HOCHUL, SAYING: "I will be signing an executive order to give me the emergency powers necessary to address the shortages where they occur. That's going to allow me to deploy the National Guard who are medically trained, deploy people who've been retired, who may have had a license lapse, bring in people from elsewhere. That is not my first position, my friends. My desire is to have the people who've been out there continue to work in their jobs, working them safely and to all the other health care workers who are vaccinated, they also deserve to know that the people they're working with will not get them sick." HOCHUL TOURING A VACCINATION SITE (SOUNDBITE) (English) NEW YORK GOVERNOR, KATHY HOCHUL, SAYING: "And we'll be nation leading with our mandate, which strikes at midnight tonight when everyone is expected in a hospital in the state of New York, or a healthcare facility, to have been vaccinated. I believe that California is going to follow suit in a couple of weeks and the president's guidance goes into effect in late October. But we were hit the first. We were hit hardest. And I want to be the first to say we're over this. And so I'm calling on all the health care workers. First of all, those of you who've been vaccinated, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for doing what was right and helping lead the way so we do have the confidence we need. And to those who've not yet made that decision, please do the right thing." VACCINATE NEW YORK SIGN OUTSIDE VACCINATION CENTER
- Embargoed: 11th October 2021 20:43
- Keywords: COVID-19 vaccine mandate Kathy Hochul New York healthcare hospitals staffing shortages workers
- Location: NEW YORK, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES
- City: NEW YORK, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES
- Country: US
- Topics: Health/Medicine,United States
- Reuters ID: LVA001EWHWXTZ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: New York hospitals were preparing to fire thousands of healthcare workers for not complying with a COVID-19 vaccine mandate taking effect on Monday (September 27), with some in the upstate region curtailing services to cope with staffing shortages.
The Erie County Medical Center (ECMC) in Buffalo has suspended elective inpatient surgeries and will not accept intensive-care patients from other hospitals as it prepares to fire hundreds of unvaccinated employees, a spokesperson said.
Catholic Health, one of the largest healthcare providers in Western New York, had said it would postpone some elective surgeries on Monday as it works to boost its vaccination rate, which reached 90% of workers as of Sunday afternoon.
Peter Cutler, a spokesman for ECMC, said the decision to curtail some operations would hurt the hospital financially, with elective inpatient surgeries bringing in about $1 million per week, in addition to inconveniencing patients.
"We had to make a decision as to where we could temporarily make some changes so that we could ensure other areas of services are as little affected as possible," Cutler said. "Financially, it's a big deal."
New York's state health department issued an order last month mandating that all healthcare workers receive at least their first COVID-19 shot by Sept. 27, triggering a rush by hospitals to get as many of their employees inoculated as possible.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul said on Saturday that she was considering employing the National Guard and out-of-state medical workers to fill likely staffing shortages, with 16% of the state's 450,000 hospital staff not fully vaccinated.
The inoculation push comes amid a broader battle between state and federal government leaders seeking to use vaccine mandates to help counter the highly infectious Delta variant of the coronavirus and workers who are against such requirements, many claiming religious grounds for their objections.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told a news conference on Monday that hospitals in the city were not seeing major impacts from the mandate, but that he was worried about other areas of the state where vaccination rates are lower.
Of the 43,000 employees at the city's 11 public hospitals, about 5,000 were not vaccinated, Dr. Mitchell Katz, head of NYC Health + Hospitals, said at the news conference.
Katz said 95% of nurses were vaccinated and all of the group's facilities were "open and fully functional" on Monday.
Healthcare workers who are fired for refusing to get vaccinated will not be eligible for unemployment insurance unless they are able to provide a valid doctor-approved request for medical accommodation, Hochul's office said.
It was not immediately clear how pending legal cases concerning religious exemptions would apply to the state's plans.
A federal judge in Albany temporarily ordered New York state officials to allow religious exemptions for the state-imposed vaccine mandate on healthcare workers.
(Production: Angela Moore)
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