Capital Region hospitals react: Gov. Cuomo claims low hospital staff vaccination rates are ‘still a problem’

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — In Governor Andrew Cuomo’s latest COVID briefing, he warned of the possible nightmare low hospital staff vaccination rates could cause during a future surge. Currently, the New York vaccination rate for hospital workers stands at 62.8% state-wide.

“You put unvaccinated nurses and doctors up against a second strain, that should keep us all up at night,” Cuomo said.

Although state coronavirus numbers have declined since the surge after the holidays, hospital capacity is still in the “danger zone.” Governor Cuomo said they aren’t lacking free beds, they’re lacking available staff. And without high vaccination rates amongst hospital workers, hospital workers will continue to get sick and ample staff will become an issue if a second wave arrives.

The Capital Region’s rate is at 67.9% with Glens Falls Hospital and Albany Medical Center leading with the highest rates in the area.

Highest Percentage of Hospital Workers Vaccinated:

  1. Glens Falls Hospital – 85.5%
  2. Albany Medical Center – 81.1%
  3. Columbia Memorial – 73.4%
  4. Saratoga Hospital – 69.3%

Lowest Percentage of Hospital Workers Vaccinated:

  1. Samaritan Hospital – 45.9%
  2. Ellis Hospital – 64.6%
  3. St. Peters Health Partners – 65.4%

Hillary Alycon, MPH, CIC Director of Infection Prevention and Control, said that early education, facilitation, and open communication has been the key to their success.

All departments have worked as a team to achieve their goal of vaccinating all staff members, and she’s hopeful the other 14.5% will follow suit soon.

“We’ve been leading on this issue; we’ve been promoting it—the fact that the vaccine is safe and effective,” Dennis McKenna, President and Chief Executive Officer of Albany Medical Center.

McKenna said that education was also crucial for Albany Med’s high vaccination rate; however, leadership played a significant role. All high-level staffers lead the way by getting vaccinated when it first became available to them.

As for their 19.9% turndown rate, Mckenna said it’s normal.

“Even among healthcare workers, there’s a wait and see attitude,” said McKenna.

St. Peter’s Health Partners was listed under Governor Cuomo’s “Lowest Percentage of Hospital Workers Vaccinated” list at 65.4% vaccinated.

“We are getting them into the arms of our dedicated front-line health care workers as soon as possible,” St. Peter’s said in a statement sent to NEWS10 ABC. “As supply permits, St. Peter’s Health Partners continues to vaccinate staff daily, including weekends and holidays, to meet the demand.”

The “lowest” rate in the Capital Region—Samaritan Hospital at 45.9%—doesn’t come close to some hospitals in New York City like Kings County Hospital Center and Bellevue Hospital Center at 27.2% and 29.8% respectively.

Rosenberg said the turndown rate for vaccine doses is still because there’s a lot of fear caused by the speed of the vaccine’s creation and approval. However, he adds that medical professionals need to educate themselves on the vaccine’s substantial data to better lead the way.

“For healthcare workers to be able to set examples for their patients. If we are not fully successful in vaccinating our healthcare workers, it makes a harder case for patients, for them to be vaccinated themselves,” Rosenberg said.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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