ALBANY – New York’s Governor responded to concerns the state COVID-19 vaccination requirement is leading to staffing issues at hospitals and nursing homes; saying she won’t let the facilities go unstaffed.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul previously issued a order that, starting on September 27, staff at hospitals and nursing homes will have had to have their first COVID-19 vaccine dose administered, while other health care facilities have until October 7.
“I think that people need to start realizing that when you stand up and say, ‘I want to be a public health official,’ in any capacity, we count on you to be healthy yourself,” explains Hochul.
This week, a federal judge put a temporary stop on the order, claiming the state couldn’t deny religious exemptions, something the Governor says she will fight in court.
“I’m not aware of a sanctioned religious exemption from any organized religion,” says Hochul. “In fact, they’re encouraging the opposite. They’re encouraging their members, everybody from the Pope on down, is encouraging people to get vaccinated.”
Nevertheless, many healthcare facilities are worried the mandate will cause an already growing staffing problem to increase.
These shortages are likely to affect the largest hospital in Cattaraugus County following the resignation of 11 workers this week due to the state’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
According to a statement released by Kaleida Health, leaders at Olean General Hospital fear 250 of their employees will be terminated from their position, unless they get vaccinated.
The concern over the mandate is shared by Senator Borrello, who commended the federal judge’s decision to temporarily block the mandate’s lack of religious exemptions.
The Senator in a statement said, “the practical effects of these mandates will be devastating to health care facilities, particularly in rural areas like ours. Understaffing has been an ongoing issue and a mandate like this one will only encourage more people to leave the health care sector.”
Borrello urged the state Department of Health to consider offering a testing alternative for unvaccinated workers.
Meanwhile, the Governor assures that any health care facility with staffing issues due to the mandate will be sent help from the state.
“I have had conversations with the Department of Health and everyone in health care in the State of New York to figure out how we can send support if necessary,” says Hochul.
Hochul did not specify what or how many resources would be available.