ALBANY, NY (WRGB) — We’ve reported for some time now on the numbers of businesses facing a rough road because of the lack of workers, but it turns out a state agency may also have a staffing problem.
You can indirectly blame this staffing predicament on the pandemic, as well, but the shortage of workers is the apparent result of Andrew Cuomo’s handling of the pandemic.
The State DOH is struggling after scores of defections attributed to Cuomo’s COVID policies and management style, and now Governor Hochul is saddled with a potential staffing shortage during a pandemic.
She wasn't even in office yet, but then governor-in-waiting Kathy Hochul was already being asked about her cabinet. Would she keep top Cuomo hires? Governor Hochul said,
“What I will do is put together an administration that has some continuity because we're in a crisis situation however I’m going to sign an executive order to keep people in place for 45 days and evaluate during that time.”
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But the new governor is going to do more than move around the team members. She’s going to have to hire a number of people as well, especially in the health department.
While DOH Commissioner Howard Zucker stays in "his" position as DOH Commissioner, despite increasing calls for him to step down--many of his top staffers have run for the hills.
The state comptroller provided me with records that show that since March 1st of 2020, the day the first case of COVID was reported in New York, the health department had 3,625 employees. On that same day a year later, the number was down to 3,481. It is now down to 3,439, a five percent drop in staff.
The comptroller’s records show that dozens of six-figure salaried employees, including the Director of Epidemiology, have abandoned ship at the health department. People with critical jobs like research scientists, directors, and their deputies.
Government watchdog Blair Horner of the New York public interest group says that leaves Hochul in a tough spot at a tough time, saying,
“It’s hard to know why people leave btu it’s bad news for New York if you’re having a brain drain in the middle of a pandemic. That causes real problems.”
The highest paid person to leave was a health program director named Gregory Allen who was making $188,000.
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On its website, the agency lists 39 current vacancies, including research scientists, lab consultants and a clinical director.
I did get a response from the governor’s office that said in effect that many DOH staffers have delayed departures or retirement to work during the pandemic and that the administration is actively recruiting new staff members.