State vaccine requirement to expand to additional health care workers Thursday

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CAPITAL REGION, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A little over a week after the state’s initial mandate for health care workers took effect, staff at additional facilities will have to be vaccinated beginning Thursday, or risk losing their jobs.

Those working at home health agencies, home health care programs, hospices and adult care facilities are among those who must be vaccinated beginning Thursday.

“This has been a really difficult topic for people. It’s polarizing, it’s a personal choice, but really when it comes down to it, we’re health care providers. We need to do what’s best for our patients, and we need to protect each other so we can continue to go out and care for those patients,” said Kara Travis, President and CEO of Mountain Valley Hospice & Palliative Care in Gloversville.

Travis says out of just over 50 employees at the facility, only two are still going through the vaccination process.

“We’re really proud of that, and again, we feel it’s because we represent such a vulnerable population, it’s important,” she explained.

In speaking with representatives from other hospices across the state, Travis estimates well over 90% of the industry is vaccinated statewide. But there is some concern over staffing challenges that were present before the pandemic and the mandate, particularly amongst home health aids.

“That’s a role I’m hearing has been pretty significantly impacted across the state. Again, we’ve been fortunate that we’ve had high compliance rates, and most of our colleagues at the other hospices across the state have as well,” Travis said.

Despite any potential staffing concerns in the industry, Travis says facilities are ready to adapt to any challenges they may face.

“That doesn’t mean we’re stopping services, we’re not reducing anything we do. We might have to get creative with scheduling and how we deploy people,” she said.

The state’s health care vaccination requirement will further expand on November 1st. Governor Hochul announced Tuesday that those working in OMH and OPWDD hospital settings will need to have at least one shot by the beginning of next month.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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