ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — With a healthcare staffing shortage across New York, Governor Kathy Hochul continued the declaration of a statewide disaster emergency last month. Some workers had left their jobs over the COVID vaccine requirement. Some believe repealing the mandate will help with the staffing crisis. But Stephen Hanse from the New York State Health Facilities Association says it may not encourage everyone to return.
“I’m aware of some individuals who pursued some careers or other avenues where they may not leave those new jobs,” Hanse said.
When the covid vaccines were mandated in 2021, health facilities around the Capital Region encouraged their staff to vaccinate. Timothy Turbiak is an X-ray Technologist for a private practice, and he remembers how the mandate affected staffing.
“We did a little shuffling around of employees who wouldn’t get the vaccine,” Turbiak said. “So, we made things happen, and we made things work.”
Hanse says that even though most nurses did take the vaccine, some still chose not to.
“There were a number of individuals who, for various reasons, religious or otherwise, declined to be vaccinated, and that’s a consequence of the prior administration under the rules.”
Government officials are hoping for the vaccine mandate repeal to ease the crisis. In 2021, hospitals like Albany Medical Center lost more nurses than hired. And the New York State Department of Health announced earlier this year that by 2030, New York will have a shortage of 40,000 nurses.
But Hanse says the process will not be simple since the mandate will also have to be repealed at the federal level.
“So until that process commences and is concluded, hospitals, the nursing homes, and certain assistant living home providers in New York are still required to have the vaccine,” he said.
But Turbiak says he believes the timing is right to start the process.
“When you think about when the first vaccines came out, and how the state we were in… The state of emergency that we were in… How things have progressed since then, and how things have gotten better since then… It only makes sense that the vaccine mandates get lifted at this point,” he said.
The New York State Department of Health says effective immediately, they will stop citing providers who don’t comply with the requirements.