ALBANY, NY (WRGB) — Hundreds of unvaccinated healthcare workers in the capital region have been suspended and could soon lose their job if they don’t get the shot, fueling the staffing shortages that hospitals have been dealing with for years.
Albany Medical Center’s CEO and President Dennis McKenna said Tuesday morning that they won’t know the full impact the vaccine mandate will have on the staffing crisis until next week.
He and other officials from area hospitals say that the mandate is the latest of a multitude of factors that have lead to staff shortages.
“We I knew this was coming two months ago, and we knew it was coming in fact five years ago, and when I say ‘it’ I’m talking about the staffing crisis,” said McKenna.
MORE: Deadline arrives for health worker vaccine mandate, hospitals seek solutions
Out of Albany Med‘s nearly 11,500 workers, McKenna said currently 204 unvaccinated workers will be suspended without pay after failing to comply with the state’s mandate.
St. Peter’s Health Partners officials tell CBS6 that 322 workers out of its roughly 12,000 have not provided vaccination documentation.
Out of Glen Falls Hospital’s 2,500 workers, 44 employees have not complied while Ellis Medicine has 105.
“It’s nurses and physicians, techs, housekeepers, transporters, therapist, anybody else, they’re all essential to the care that we provide your community and there’s a proportion of those that have elected not to become vaccinated,” said Christopher Jordan, Chief Nursing Officer with St. Peter’s Health Partners (SPHP)
MORE: Troy again runs short on ambulances, crews to answer calls
While SPHP couldn’t provide a breakdown, Albany Med officials said that the 204 unvaccinated workers include 48 nurses, 29 patient care associates, 10 physicians, and six students.
Ray Agnew, Glen Falls Hospital’s Vice President of Community Engagement, said that it’s an 80 to 20 ratio in terms of clinical patient facing workers versus non clinical workers.
Currently, unvaccinated healthcare workers who claim a religious exemption are still able to go to work after a federal judge temporarily blocked the mandate earlier this month for those claiming a religious exemption. Litigation on the issue continues.
Albany Med said they have 29 unvaccinated staff members claiming a religious exemption while Ellis has 69.
SPHP and Glen Falls Hospital officials was unable to provide us with those numbers.
Capital Region hospital officials say they’re now looking at solutions to tackle the staffing shortage head on.
“We are rewarding employees at the $250 per pay period if they have perfect attendance in that two week,” said McKenna.
McKenna said that Albany Med is also looking into providing patient care training to their non clinical workers.
“You do not need an RN license or be a physician in order to sit and help redirect a patient,” said McKenna. “All you need is some training that we can provide to anybody who can then act in the role of helping as a safety companion.”
“We’re looking at options and are hopeful that the governors executive order [signed Monday] will help as well because it did the last time around when were able to bring in licensed professionals from other states and have that license accepted in New York State.