BINGHAMTON, NY (WSKG)—Willow Point nursing home in Broome County closed two of its inpatient units after 15 employees refused to get the COVID-19 vaccine before New York’s deadline for hospital and nursing home staff this week.
The employees cut because of the mandate, which went into effect on Monday, included three nurses and nine certified nursing assistants. County officials said three other nurses who did not get the vaccine were able to keep their jobs.
Since the start of the pandemic, approximately 50 residents of the Vestal nursing home and rehabilitation center have died from COVID-19.
With two units closed, the nursing home has reduced its capacity from 300 to 216 beds. As of Friday, Willow Point was operating below the new limit, but with only nine beds open.
Speaking in a COVID-19 briefing on Friday, Broome County Executive Jason Garnar said the recent cuts deepen existing staff shortages at the nursing home, which is run by the county.
“It got incredibly worse over the last three years,” Garnar said. “It’s gotten even worse because of COVID, and now with staffing mandates and things like that, it’s gotten to the point where it’s just, you know, absolutely terrible.”
Garnar said nursing homes across the region are facing shortages, especially due to the limited pool of qualified certified nursing assistants.
According to Garnar, approximately 200 employees between the two hospital systems in Broome County—Lourdes and UHS*—refused to get the shot per the state’s requirement.
Staff in home care, hospice and adult care facilities in New York have through Oct. 7 to get at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine before the health care mandate applies to them as well.
*Full disclosure: UHS is a WSKG underwriter.