New York’s vaccine mandate stalled in court, but some still fear staffing shortage

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — While New York’s vaccination mandate for staff at health care facilities is held up in court, some local private institutions already had requirements in place before the state. But, some are concerned mandates could exacerbate staffing issues.

In July, after Trinity Health, which owns St. Peter’s Health Partners, mandated vaccinations, the local provider gave staff until September 21st to roll up their sleeves, or face termination.

“We’re really doing this out of a concern for the safety of our patients, our colleagues and all the loved ones we come into contact with,” Dr. Steven Hanks, the Chief Clinical Officer for St. Peter’s said at the time.

But, one RN is concerned valuable nurses could be lost as a result of the requirement.

“The danger of losing staff, as opposed to not vaccinating the remaining, I think the risks outweigh the benefits,” said Diane Pruiksma.

In a statement, a spokesperson at St. Peter’s estimates over 90% of staff in acute care are already vaccinated. However, a handful of employees have resigned prior to the September 21st vaccination deadline.

In part, the statement says:

“We are prepared for this and as such, have made plans to accommodate any resulting staffing challenges to ensure that the critical work of providing high-quality, compassionate care to our patients and to our community is not interrupted.”

St. Peter’s Health Partners Spokesperson

Meanwhile, at Albany Med, where staff have until October 1st to get vaccinated, 92% have completed their vaccine series while 5% have gotten at least the first dose. Those numbers are expected to rise as the provider has second dose clinics in the future.

The state’s stalled mandate also impacts staff at long-term facilities like nursing homes.

“Prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, New York was experiencing a significant long-term care workforce crisis. With the onset of the pandemic, it only exacerbated that crisis,” said Stephen Hanse, President and CEO of the New York State Health Facilities Association.

On Monday, NYSHFA sent a letter to Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker, urging the state to amend their mandate to temporarily allow unvaccinated staff to get tested regularly.

In a survey, the association found that of the 201 providers who have responded, 94% are experiencing a staffing shortage. That includes 99% with vacancies for clinical nurse assistants, 98% for registered nurses and 92% for licensed practical nurses.

“Even on some shifts, the loss of one worker is significant,” Hanse said.

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

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