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Governor Hochul not budging on vaccine mandate for healthcare workers

Gov. Kathy Hochul{ }not budging on vaccine mandate for healthcare workers
Gov. Kathy Hochul not budging on vaccine mandate for healthcare workers
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ROCHESTER, N.Y. - Governor Kathy Hochul is not budging on a vaccine mandate for healthcare workers that is set to take effect on September 27.

"To all the healthcare providers, doctors and nurses in particular who are vaccinated, I say thank you. Because you are keeping true to your oath," she said during a visit to Rochester Wednesday. "To those who won’t, we will be replacing people."

Hochul said there is a plan to replace unvaccinated workers but did not provide specifics.

"We are sending out a call statewide. There are facilities, for example in New York City, that 98% of their staff are vaccinated, they don’t have a worker shortage. We are working closely with these hospitals to find out where we can get other individuals to come in and supplement nursing homes and other facilities," said Hochul.

Hochul also mentioned acquiring work visas for foreign healthcare workers but did not say how long that plan would take.

At Strong Memorial Hospital, workers are already strained.

"For us in the hospital, it has really been not a surge but a marathon. We have been going full tilt for 18 months. The honest truth is that we're exhausted, mentally, physically, emotionally," said Dr. Paritosh Prasad, Director of Surgical Intensive Care and the Highly Infectious Disease Unit at Strong.

On Monday, hospitals and nursing homes will face another hurdle when unvaccinated workers quit rather than get the COVID vaccine.

Doctor Sarah Klein knew her decision to not get vaccinated could cost her her job. But the letter she received Wednesday from U of R Medical Center confirmed it.

"It's kind of hard to see it writing. So it was a pretty sad moment and certainly not what I thought things would come to in my career at this point," said Dr. Klein.

Nursing homes have been preparing for a potential workforce shortage. Kelly Luther, head of Patient and Family Care at Strong, says finding long term care beds is challenging. 15 of the nursing homes they refer patients to have paused admissions.

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"We always have a number of patients that are waiting for that nursing home bed offer for a variety of reasons that may be delayed but not to the degree that we are facing today," said Luther. "It's creating a situation in which we have to be more expansive about our reach for those referrals across the western region."

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