New York Hospitals Prepare For Loss Of Unvaccinated Health Care Workers

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SYRACUSE, NY (WRVO) – Hospitals find out on Tuesday just how staffing levels will be impacted, following the New York state mandate that all health care workers be vaccinated for COVID-19 or lose their jobs.

St. Joseph’s Health in Syracuse estimates about 94% of its workforce is vaccinated, or has a valid exemption, according to Philip Falcone, chief medical officer. But it’s still unclear how losing employees who aren’t vaccinated is going to play out on a day-to-day basis at the hospital.

Registered nurse Anna Yadgaro, right, talks to Juana Mejia about the process before inoculating her with the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, Wednesday, May 12, 2021, at the Joseph P. Addabbo Family Health Center in the Far Rockaway neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

“Those people who are still out there are a combination of people who have not uploaded their information yet and those who won’t be vaccinated,” Falcone said. “I think we’ll know in a few days what those numbers will look like.”

Falcone said if the numbers are small enough in each department, they should be able to cope with that pretty well.

“I don’t think it’s any one area that will be affected more than any other,” Falcone said. “I’m hoping we can manage through that and not have a tremendous number of people in any one department who are missing.”

St Joe’s along with Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse have taken some preliminary steps to deal with a potential staffing shortage, including cutting back on elective surgery and closing operating rooms. Gov. Kathy Hochul also announced plans to deal with potential worker shortages; calling in the National Guard and allowing retired workers to help fill the gap. Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon hopes the state is ready to immediately help hospitals already reeling from worker shortages in recent months.

“Hopefully it’s ready to be implemented right away or else the health of the community is going to suffer,” McMahon said.

There has been a flurry of some health care workers getting vaccinated in recent days. But estimates show about 10% of nurses and support staff in central New York still haven’t gotten the shots. State officials also said resistance to the vaccine is higher upstate than downstate.