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A NY Hospital Will Stop Delivering Babies As Workers Quit Over A Vaccine Mandate

A droplet falls from a syringe after a health care worker was injected with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine last year at a hospital in Providence, R.I.

David Goldman/AP


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David Goldman/AP

A droplet falls from a syringe after a health care worker was injected with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine last year at a hospital in Providence, R.I.

David Goldman/AP

If a conflict at one New York hospital over vaccine mandates for healthcare workers is any indication, the Biden administration’s new effort to mandate vaccines for millions of workers could be in for an uphill battle.

The White House is taking steps to require that millions of American workers, like federal workers, contractors, and certain healthcare workers, get a COVID-19 vaccine.

The plan will require workers who are employed at hospitals, home health agencies, and other types of medical facilities that participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

In New York, where former Gov. Andrew Cuomo mandated that all healthcare workers in the state get a vaccine, employees at hospitals and long-term care facilities need to get their first dose by Sep. 27.

At one local hospital in upstate New York, dozens of staff members walked away from their jobs after refusing to get vaccinated. The move has seriously disrupted care in the process.

Lewis County General Hospital, in Lowville, New York, announced Friday that it is temporarily pausing maternity services later this month after dozens of staff quit rather than get a COVID-19 vaccine.

The hospital will be “unable to safely staff” its maternity department and newborn nursery as of Sept. 25, according to Lewis County Health System CEO Gerald Cayer. He added that other departments in the hospital are at risk too if workers don’t get vaccinated.

As of Friday, 30 employees have resigned from Lewis County General Hospital. At least 464 people in the Lewis County Health System are vaccinated — a 73% immunization rate among employees.

Separately, there are 165 workers who aren’t vaccinated and haven’t shared yet what their plans are, as the state’s Sept. 27 deadline for a first shot approaches.

“We have a challenge to work through with the vaccination mandate,” Cayer said during a recent press conference. “The number of resignations received leaves us no choice but to pause delivering babies.”

Lewis County has recorded 2,626 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Friday. The state lists the county as one at a “very high” risk level. About 46% of the county is fully vaccinated.

States mandate healthcare workers get shots

To cut down on the spread of the coronavirus and its highly contagious variants, some states passed their own vaccine mandates for healthcare workers earlier this year.

At least a dozen states already mandate vaccination or regular testing for healthcare workers. At least six states require healthcare workers get vaccinated or face termination.

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, of Lakewood, center, and Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, right, watch from the balcony outside the Assembly Chambers as protesters opposing vaccine mandates gather at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif.

Rich Pedroncelli/AP


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Rich Pedroncelli/AP

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, of Lakewood, center, and Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, right, watch from the balcony outside the Assembly Chambers as protesters opposing vaccine mandates gather at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif.

Rich Pedroncelli/AP

Other medical facilities have implemented vaccine or testing mandates independently from any government intervention. Private employers, such as Delta and United Airlines, have taken similar steps, side-stepping efforts by state officials to ban local mandates requiring people to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Issues over vaccine, testing or mask mandates have erupted in U.S. schools as well. Last month, Chicago Public Schools said 10% of their school bus drivers quit because they’re unwilling to get mandated vaccines.

Other health-care facilities have been acutely affected by the vaccine mandate stand-off between bosses and their workers.

The pandemic has already exacerbated staffing shortages at medical facilities in the U.S. Hospitals around the country have also offered incentives to get its workers to stick around during the pandemic, such as offering sign-on bonuses.

Some healthcare administrators in Texas fear mandating vaccines for workers will push desperately needed employees to quit, according to the Texas Tribune.

In April, Houston Methodist hospital system was among the first in the nation to implement a vaccine mandate. The hospital lost 150 employees who refused to comply and either quit or resigned.


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