A hospital located just north of Syracuse, New York, says it will be forced to “pause” maternity services because several staff members have resigned rather than comply with a state mandate that requires them to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Gerald R. Cayer, the Lewis County Health System CEO, said at a press conference Friday that the company will be “unable to safely staff” the maternity ward at Lewis County General Hospital in Lowville beginning Sept. 24.
In August, then-New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo directed all state-employed health care workers to get at least one dose COVID-19 vaccine. Cayer stated Friday that thirty hospital system employees have quit since Cuomo made his announcement.
21 of the people who resigned were in clinical areas, including six from the maternity unit. The company has not yet informed 165 employees about their plans to move forward.
“We still have two weeks for the first dose of vaccine to be administered to 165 employees.” Cayer stated that we also need to develop contingency plans in case of emergency for any services that we think are at risk. “We cannot wait until the last minute. We are not given much time, so we have a tight deadline.
Cayer estimates that the overall vaccination rate for the health system is 73%.
Cayer indicated that the health care system is looking to hire nurses who are vaccinated in order to be able “reengage in delivering baby here in Lewis County” in the future.
Cayer stated, “Our hope is that as we get closer to the deadline, the numbers of people who have been vaccinated will rise, and fewer individuals will go. Maybe with a little luck a few of those who have resigned may reconsider.”
Lewis County Health System’s struggles come as President Joe Biden hopes to institute widespread vaccine mandates, including for health care workers. Biden stated that he will require vaccinations in all health care settings that are eligible for Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement.
The mandates are working for other companies, even though Lewis County Health System is having trouble finding workers to follow the order. Delta Airlines Last week, the company reported that many employees had been vaccinated. The mandate was placed after it stated that those who didn’t get their shots would be subject to an additional $200 per month in health care costs.
An AP-NORC poll conducted in August found that 55% of Americans are in favor of requiring government workers to be fully vaccinated, compared with 21% opposed.