Vaccine mandate impact: Upstate Hospital to reduce number of operating rooms, postpone elective surgeries


SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV)– Upstate University Hospital is set to temporarily close nearly two-thirds of its operating rooms in anticipation of worker losses next week due to the state’s vaccine mandate. 

Normally, the hospital would have 35 rooms open for surgery, but they will be down to just 13 on Monday when Governor Kathy Hochul’s vaccine mandate deadline goes into effect. 

Dr. Jeffrey Schaffel, Upstate’s Anestisiology Corporation President said on any normal Monday morning, operating rooms would be bustling with surgeries, but this Monday things will be dramatically different. 

“I expect to walk into a place that’s going to be a lot quieter on Monday than it would normally be on a Monday morning,” Dr. Schaffel said.

The anticipation of losing a number of healthcare workers who are refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19 has forced the hospital to make these difficult decisions. One of those decisions included postponing elective surgeries due to staffing shortages that have existed even before the mandate.

“This Monday I’m going to be telling people don’t come to work, stay home, we have no place to put you, I’m not looking forward to Monday,” Schaffel said.

Dr. Schaffel said that while he believes healthcare workers need to get vaccinated, he does not support a vaccine mandate and thinks Governor Hochul has not thought this decision through enough, one she stood firm in on Thursday during a press conference.

“It’s not going to be perfect but it can be, it can be a perfect situation if we can get the hold-outs to understand the power they have to help us get back to normal and I’m pleading them to see it in that perspective,” Governor Hochul said. 

Schaffel added he doesn’t believe this mandate will make more people get vaccinated quicker and believes the people truly getting hurt in the process are the patients.

“The bottom line is it’s going to hurt people who are who have been vaccinated who expect to come to the hospital and have their procedures done, they’re the ones that are being victimized by this decision,” he said.

Upstate University Hospital said in a statement to NewsChannel 9 in part,

“While Upstate University Hospital continues to ensure the best care for our patients, we are proactively taking temporary measures to focus on COVID cases, as well as safely meet the critical care needs of the community. Upstate is like many other hospitals across the country—balancing staffing challenges as we see increasing demand for patient care. We appreciate the impact of this on our patients and hope to resume a full surgical schedule as soon as possible.”

Upstate University Hospital

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