New York Governor Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, is signing an executive order that will allow her to deploy medically trained National Guard members in order to deal with staffing shortages. New York healthcare services, including hospitals, are anticipating shortages after unvaccinated workers will be fired effective tonight. New York also plans to call upon retired health care workers, recent grads, and those licensed in other states and countries.
As National File previously reported, Hochul was mulling an emergency declaration as the state’s healthcare sector vaccine mandate is set to take effect. “We are taking all the steps preemptively in anticipation of what I call a preventable staffing shortage,” Hochul said on Monday. “To all the other healthcare workers who are vaccinated, they also deserve to know that the people they’re working with will not get them sick,” she added.
Hochul also called upon the federal government to “expedite visa requests” so that the state can import healthcare workers from other countries. New York State Public Employees Federation President Wayne Spence cast doubt over whether the governor’s plan would sufficiently fill the holes caused by the mandate. “I don’t think there’s enough people to go around to plug the holes because a lot of nurses have left New York State as of last year,” Spence said.
In Buffalo, Erie County Medical Center Corporation said about 5 percent of its hospital staff and 20 percent of nursing home workers had been put on unpaid leave for not being vaccinated. Northwell Health, the state’s largest health care provider said it has begun removing unvaccinated workers from its system. Other healthcare facilities have already started to experience shortages as well, including one hospital that had to stop delivering babies after multiple nurses from the maternal ward resigned.
A federal judge recently issued a temporary restraining order against the portion of the state’s vaccine mandate that does not allow for religious exemptions. Hochul rejected the decision, saying that religious exemptions are not sufficient. “I’m not aware of a sanctioned religious exemption from any organized religion, in fact they are encouraging the opposite,” Hochul said. The governor, who stepped in after Andrew Cuomo’s resignation, recently called the vaccine a gift from god. She added that those who haven’t been vaccinated aren’t “listening to god” or “what god wants.”
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