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WNY counties: Staff vaccine mandate could have ‘catastrophic’ consequences

by WayneTimes.com
September 7, 2021

Mass resignations.

Reduced beds.

Patients with no place to go.

New Yorkers will be contending with a crisis come Sept. 27 when the state’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for health care workers takes effect, according to a letter from officials representing 10 Rochester-area counties.

13WHAM has obtained a letter signed by leaders of Genesee, Livingston, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca, Schuyler, Steuben, Wayne, Wyoming, and Yates counties to Gov. Kathy Hochul and state health commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker on Sept. 1, imploring them to modify the vaccine requirement.

Monroe County was not listed on the letter.

Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Aug. 16 that all healthcare workers, including staff at hospitals and long-term care facilities, including nursing homes and adult care settings, must be vaccinated by Sept. 27.

The county leaders say while they support vaccinations, the mandate, as it stands now, will lead to dire consequences. They say some health care facilities have already seen a large number of resignations, affecting patient care. If resignations keep up, some of the facilities may need to reduce their number of beds by one-third, they said. Nursing homes will be forced to discharge patients; hospitals won’t be able to discharge patients to nursing homes.

“The potential mass exodus of healthcare staff in late September, coming several weeks after children return to school, coupled with the continued increase in COVID-19 cases across the state caused by the proliferation of the Delta variant is a recipe for crisis throughout the entire healthcare system,” the letter reads.

They write that the state should consider allowing for a weekly, or more frequent testing alternative to vaccination.

Increasing the number of vaccinations is critical, they say, but “we cannot continue on a path that threatens the very viability of our entire healthcare system in the pursuit of these goals.”

“Why don’t we just have people test out that aren’t vaccinated on a regular basis, as we were doing in Livingston County presently, trying to catch these upfront, versus having the potential predicament of having a mass staff exodus of these resignations and retirements across the health care system,” said Livingston County Administrator Ian Coyle.

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello said his county is not in the same position as the other counties.

“Right now, we don’t see a catastrophic outcome of this in terms of having to close patient beds. That’s just not our situation, but it’s going to be different in different counties,” he said. 

This is a developing story. Visit our news partners at 13wham.com for the latest details.

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