Smaller local hospitals already feeling the impact of statewide vaccine mandate

Coronavirus

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) – Across New York, hospital staff numbers are looking smaller as thousands of healthcare workers had to make the decision whether to get the COVID-19 vaccine or lose their jobs.

The statewide vaccine mandate for all healthcare workers went into effect at midnight on Tuesday, September 28. There were many workers holding out to get the vaccine right to the last minute, but it seems the deadline did push more people to get the shot.

Across the medical field, there’s a widespread staffing shortage that dates well before the vaccine mandate went into effect.

Community and smaller-sized hospitals throughout Central New York are already feeling the impact and are expecting to reduce services.

In a letter sent to all patients and staff, the President and CEO of Oneida Health made it clear how the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for healthcare providers could impact its services and quality of care.

The new COVID vaccine mandate for healthcare providers and staff may in the end, result in reducing capacity for care. This includes Emergency, Inpatient, Outpatient Diagnostics as well as access to Long Term Care. At this point in time, the Syracuse and Utica hospitals have reached capacity limits which has resulted in our transferring patients who require specialized care to Albany, Binghamton, Rochester and Buffalo. 

Gene Morreale, President/CEO of Oneida Health

As of Tuesday, Oneida Health has 88% of its staff vaccinated, but there is still an overall average employee vacancy rate of 10%. In some positions, the percentage is above that, according to Morreale.

On top of the stretched workforce at Oneida Health, Morreale voiced concerns that the mandate will create a healthcare crisis for the entire region.

“I assure you we are preparing for worst case scenario, that is, the majority of unvaccinated staff will leave employment in healthcare. Understand though, the impact of this will be experienced by all healthcare providers for the foreseeable future. Longer wait times to be evaluated as well as delays in testing availability will be more common.”

gene morreale, president/ceo of oneida health

You can read the full statement from Oneida Health below:

In a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, the President and CEO of Mohawk Valley Health System (MVHS), the parent company of St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center and Faxton St. Luke’s Hospital in Utica, placed 180 of its unvaccinated employees on administrative leave due to the mandate. That totals 5% of the company’s workforce.

Some elective surgeries have been postponed and MVHS patients should expect longer wait times.

“The consequences for the patients are not just the wait times, but wait times and delays in treatment are not good quality. Certainly with fewer staff, you can’t expect the quality to be the same. That said, we will triage and be sure to take care of those patients who are most at risk, and those who can wait without harm, will wait.

Darlene stromstad, president/ceo of mohawk valley health system

Before the statewide mandate, the vacancy rate at MVHS was 13.7%. As of Tuesday, the vacancy rate jumped to 17.5%.

Though, a different stance at Auburn Community and Rome Memorial Hospitals.

At Rome Memorial Hospital, 95% of its staff has at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. A spokesperson there says a handful of workers got the shot last minute. No services are expected to be reduced at Rome Memorial.

In a statement sent to NewsChannel 9, Auburn Community Hospital said the leadership team does not expect any service reductions.

The hospital would not say how many of its employees are vaccinated and how many resigned.

You can read the full statement from Auburn Community Hospital below:

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