Lewis County General Hospital in New York will temporarily close its maternity ward after dozens of employees resigned over the recent COVID vaccine mandate for healthcare workers.
Speaking at the press conference on Friday, Lewis County Health System CEO Gerald Cayer admitted many of the healthcare workers chose to quit their jobs but not get inoculated, which impacted the hospital’s services:
“We are unable to safely staff the service after September 24. The number of resignations received leaves us no choice but to pause delivering babies at Lewis County General Hospital.”
Saying that healthcare is an “essential service” to the public, and a healthcare system is a “vital piece” of the economic well-being, Cayer said that he himself supports the mandatory COVID vaccination of the healthcare workers. Echoing the frustration of President Joe Biden, who maintained that “our patience is wearing thin” with the unvaccinated, Cayer implied that the healthcare system is at risk not because of the mandate, which merely “insures we will have a healthy workforce, and that we are not responsible for the [COVID] transmission in an out of our facilities,” but because of the unvaccinated workers.
Then-governor Andrew Cuomo announced in mid-August that the staffs of hospitals and long-term care facilities would have to receive their first dose by September 27 or be fired. In response, 30 employees at the LCHS have quit, per Cayer. The hospital’s vaccination rate is 73 percent, with 165 employees still unvaccinated, and “it is not clear what they will do.”
Further, the hospital boss indicated that he hopes the maternity ward will not be closed permanently, and said they are asking the Department of Health for help and proposing different measures to accommodate unvaccinated workers. Still, he continued, the current situation with the rate of unvaccinated staff and the existing rules puts “several other clinical departments” at risk of losing workers. To address the issue, the hospital is looking into options such as redeployment of the appropriately credentialed staff to the at-risk departments. For example, nurses working at the information or human services departments will be asked to apply themselves in those clinical departments.
The hospital also said the mothers-to-be will still be able to see their doctors during the pregnancy, but at some point, will be referred to the other facilities to arrange for their maternity and postpartum care. It’s been admitted that the understaffing is already disrupting the normal functioning of the maternity department, since the nurse manager has already “taken shifts for weeks now working as a staff nurse just to fill the schedule as it is now.”
Referring to the talk at the regional prenatal care system, Dr. Sean Harney, who spoke at the conference, said that many other facilities in the state are “in the similar circumstance,” which includes such large hospitals as St. Luke’s Hospital and Crouse Hospital.
State Health Department data shows that 20 percent of hospital workers and 24 percent of nursing home workers have refused to inject themselves with experimental gene therapy, aka “COVID vaccines.” The numbers translate into 94,500 hospital workers and 5,000 nursing home workers facing termination over their health choice. According to a local media report, there are also “tens of thousands” of unvaccinated health workers in adult care, home care, hospice and other select medical fields who are subject to the draconian mandate.
Sure enough, kicking out all these people out of work would lead to severely damaged healthcare services for the public.
Last week, Republican New York State Assembly members sent a letter to Governor Kathy Hochul and state Health Commissioner Howard Zucker warning that the vaccine mandate could cost the healthcare system of the state up to a quarter of its workforce.
The letter reads:
We already see workforce shortages and workers leaving from COVID-19 burnout. This is in addition to the unfortunate fact that our healthcare facilities have struggled to recruit and retain workers, even before COVID-19, particularly in our rural communities […] A potential loss of 20-25% of our healthcare workforce would deliver a devastating blow, particularly for our rural healthcare centers, nursing homes and hospitals. This, at this particular time especially, we certainly cannot afford.
On September 1, ten New York County Health Departments also penned a letter to Governor Hochul to discuss the “unintended consequences of the vaccine mandate,” noting that some of the local hospitals and nursing homes would have to reduce their bed capacity by as much as “one third or more” if the currently unvaccinated workers resign. What happens next is that nursing homes would have to discharge some of their patients that will have no other place to go. In addition to that, “The inability of hospitals to discharge patients into nursing homes facilities, who will no longer have capacity to accept new admissions, will create a backlog in a hospital system and imperil our acute care capacity as we head into the fall and winter months,” the warning goes.
The signatories urged the state to modify the strict mandate by giving workers the option of wearing facemasks and submitting to weekly COVID testing, which is already offered to teachers and other school employees who refuse to be jabbed. Also, the current mandate does not allow workers to file for religious exemptions from vaccination.
The understaffing of hospitals may very soon become a national issue since on September 9 the Biden administration has expanded emergency regulations requiring COVID vaccinations for nursing home workers to all staff within all Medicare and Medicaid-certified facilities.