ALBANY, N.Y. (WIVB/WWTI) — New York Gov. Kathy Hochul is trying to take action to alleviate a stressed health care system in the wake of a vaccine mandate that raised the pressure. She declared a state of emergency, expanding workforce eligibility to address staffing shortages in health care facilities

The governor made one last jab at getting holdouts vaccinated at an event in New York City on Monday. “We want to move on, and the only way we can do that is to ensure everyone is vaccinated, but particularly individuals who are taking care of the people who are sick,” she said.

To offset those workers lost to the vaccine requirements, the emergency order allows out-of-state and international health care workers to practice in New York. It also creates a fast-track process for retired workers to get certified to work and expands the list of people eligible to administer vaccinations.

The new measures came into effect late on Monday night, the statewide deadline for hospital and nursing home staff to receive the vaccine. “The only way we can move past this pandemic is to ensure that everyone eligible is vaccinated, and that includes those who are taking care of our vulnerable family members and loved ones,” Hochul said in a press release. “On Saturday I released a comprehensive plan in advance of the deadline for the vaccine mandate that keeps New Yorkers safe, and tonight I am adding even more provisions to take bold action to alleviate potential staffing shortages.” 

Hochul’s executive order lets health care workers from different states and counties—including physicians, registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, nurse practitioners, physicians assistants, midwives, clinical nurse specialists, licensed master social workers, and licensed clinical social workers—practice in the state. The order also waives reregistration fees, expediting the process. It provides flexibility for clinical labs to increase testing capacities and lets:

  • Practitioners work or volunteer in other facilities
  • Physicians visit nursing homes via telemedicine
  • State-licensed providers without current registrations practice without penalty
  • Graduates of SED-registered programs to practice in a hospital or nursing home for 180 days following graduation

The next part of the mandate is for staff at home care, hospice, and adult facilities. They’ll have to be vaccinated by October 7. So far, 89%of staff in adult care facilities have had at least one dose.

According to the latest data from the governor’s office, the number of nursing home staff with at least one shot is now 92%, up from 70% when the mandate was announced back in August. Hochul has also set up a 24/7 operations center through the Department of Health to track staffing trends around the state. The center aims to guide health care facilities and troubleshoot problems.