Medical professionals, who were hailed as heroes during the throes of the pandemic, are now resigning in droves over a dictate from the governor’s office in New York requiring all healthcare workers, including long-term care facility employees, to be vaccinated, lest they be fired.
As a consequence, the NY healthcare system — and its patients — are already feeling the strains, only compounding an established nurse shortage.
A hospital in upstate New York, for example, has had to stop delivering babies and other maternity services due to employees quitting in protest of the vaccine mandate.
The Democrat & Chronicle reported this week, “Six employees at the Lewis County Health System have resigned, and seven more are unwilling to get vaccinated, meaning Lewis County General Hospital will stop delivering babies for the time being, multiple news outlets reported.”
“We are unable to safely staff the service after Sept. 24,” said Lewis County Health System CEO Gerald Cayer at a news conference. “We have a challenge to work through with the vaccination mandate.”
Moreover, an urgent care facility in Farmington, NY, had to close down due to staff shortages over the vaccine mandate.
“The mandate that all New York healthcare workers be vaccinated is starting to have an impact on our region,” Finger Lakes Daily News reported Wednesday.
“Starting Sunday, UR Medicine Thompson Health is temporarily shutting down its urgent care in Farmington due to significant staffing challenges. The center will only operate as an outpatient clinic for high-risk patients being treated for COVID,” the report added. “Thompson Health says it is consolidating and deploying staff where needed.”
“I think the mandate is awful,” said 20-year Thompson Hospital RN Barbara Coleman. “Our healthcare system has always run on the premise that each person has autonomy in their own healthcare decisions. We had to respect their choices even if they were not choices that were in their best interest. Suddenly, this is not the case with this vaccine.”
Now-resigned Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) on August 16 announced that all healthcare workers in the state of New York, including staff at hospitals and long-term care facilities such as nursing homes, adult care facilities, and other congregate care settings, are required to be vaccinated against Covid-19. Specifically, they must have at least their first dose of the vaccine by September 27. Notably, the order forbids even religious exemptions.
As wait-times for patients explode and facilities close, Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul is standing by the vaccine dictate. Though the governor was warned last month by ten New York counties about the forthcoming staff shortages from the mandate.
Orleans, Genesee, Wyoming, Livingston, Steuben, Wayne, Ontario, Yates, Seneca, and Schuyler counties wrote a letter to Hochul and state Commissioner of Health Dr. Howard Zucker begging for the mandate to be pulled back, outlining “grave concerns” about implications from the order.
“Anecdotally, we have heard from local hospital and nursing home partners that they may have to reduce their bed capacity by as much as one-third or more if the unvaccinated employees resign rather than receive the vaccine,” the letter said, according to D&C reporting.
Multiple reports indicate that an estimated 130,000 unvaccinated healthcare workers at hospitals and nursing homes will lose their jobs once the mandate takes effect.
Earlier this week, a federal judge halted Hochul’s order due to an “emergency” addition to the dictate barring even religious exemptions. The state has one week to respond.
Judge David Hurd issued the order giving the Hochul administration “until Sept. 22 to respond to the lawsuit in federal court in Utica,” ABC News reported. “If the state opposes the plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary court order blocking the vaccine mandate, a Sept. 28 oral hearing will occur.”
“The same front line health care workers hailed as heroes by the media for treating COVID patients before vaccines were available, including the Plaintiffs herein, are now vilified by the same media as pariahs who must be excluded from society until they are vaccinated against their will,” the lawsuit underscored.