Home healthcare agencies already feeling impact of vaccine mandate

Local News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV)– Not having enough healthcare workers has a ripple effect, hospitals can’t send some patients home without the support of home healthcare aides and then there are those who are already relying on home care and it’s now gone. 

“For elderly people, medically fragile children, people with medical complex conditions, people coming home from the hospital with surgeries excetera, they’re all impacted by this to the extent that the workforce drops significantly so that you can’t meet those care needs,” President of the Homecare Association of New York State, Al Cardillo said.

But it’s tough to pinpoint just how many home health care employees have walked away from their career because the New York State Department of Health is relying on a self-reported survey sent out to all licensed home healthcare agencies. From the data the DOH has received since Friday, October 8, 90.1% of staff were vaccinated with at least one dose. That means nearly 24,000 employees have chosen to not get the shot and lose their job. 

For Interim Healthcare’s nearly 3,300 employees in New York State, the workers and patients they serve are already starting to feel the impact. 

“I was speaking to one of our groups actually in New York and they said we are saying no to 50% of our referrals, we just don’t have the staff,” CEO Jennifer Sheets said. 

The patients that rely on home healthcare aides for basic tasks like getting out of bed, getting dressed, grocery shopping and more have been told they don’t have the staff to help anymore. 

And Cardillo said those jobs aren’t easy to fill.

“Most of the time the agencies will tell you that to orient a new nurse to work in the field it takes about nine months, so if you lose a staff person it’s not like somebody can walk up in the door and suddenly start doing this,” he said.

Cardillo added that the impact is likely much higher as not every agency has responded to the Department of health survey and each aid typically cares for two to five patients in one day.

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