ALBANY, N.Y. (WETM) — Hospitals in New York could be heading towards a staffing crisis. Healthcare workers have under three weeks to get their first dose of the vaccine or they will lose their jobs.
“While this vaccine mandate proposed by the governor I do believe is well-intentioned, however, I think it’s going to be counterproductive,” said Steuben County Public Health Director, Darlene Smith.
The health care industry is already experiencing staffing shortages, and there are many indications that a large number of unvaccinated staff are prepared to lose their jobs. “You think it’s a nursing shortage now?” said health care worker Sam Bennett. “Wait until this is done.”
Protests continue across the state while COVID cases keeping rising. Steuben County averages over 50 new positive cases per day, and Smith says that’s is a significant increase from last month. For comparison, in Albany County on Friday, 100 new cases were identified.
New York Department of Health has allowed school officials who are not vaccinated to test weekly. Public health officials are urging the state for a testing option like this for health care workers.
“It’s a good alternative to the proposed mandate because it would still protect patient’s safety,” said Smith. “It would respect the personal rights of health care workers, and honestly to ensure that our medical system is as prepared as possible for the increase in COVID cases.”
Even vaccine protestors even seem to be fine with the proposition of weekly testing. “When it comes to things like that, I’m all for it,” said Bennett. “It’s just the forcing of vaccination that I have a problem with.”
Hospitals and nursing homes might be forced to reduce their capacity if they lose significant amounts of staff. “Who’s going to take care of those that are sick?” asked Smith. “This one mandate will inevitably lead to another completely different public health crisis, and that is not enough health care workers.”
Vaccine mandate protestors are organizing another rally this Sunday in Troy, Pennsylvania. There, prominent Republicans figures—such as former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon—are scheduled to speak out.