ALBANY, N.Y. (WIVB) — Gov. Kathy Hochul has declared a State of Emergency to deal with potential staffing shortages resulting from the state’s new rules for healthcare worker vaccinations.
The order allows out-of-state and international health care workers to practice in New York. Additionally, it creates a fast track process for retired workers to get certified to work, and expands the list of people eligible to administer vaccinations.
According to the latest data from the Governor’s office, the number of nursing home staff with at least one shot is now 92 percent, up from 70 percent when the mandate was announced back in August.
As of Sunday, around 85% of Elderwood employees had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Officials there said they’re now working to recruit for the positions of those who didn’t get the shot.
Vice president of marketing and communications Chuck Hayes said an average of less than three employees per facility have already been voluntarily terminated after choosing not to get the vaccine.
“I think there were a lot of people who had been discerning of whether or not to get vaccinated and this accelerated their discernment process and we’re fortunate that so many of them decided to actually get vaccinated,” Hayes said.
Numbers vary across the 32 facilities. As of Sunday, the Hamburg location was at 94.8% with other locations not far behind.
For now, Hayes said Elderwood won’t be needing to take measures from Governor Hochul’s emergency order.
“Right now there’s no significant issues where it’s affecting operations, but we’re monitoring the situation very closely and keeping an eye on it,” he said. “We feel we’re doing actually quite well we’ve got recruitment and retention programs in place.”
He also said if a former employee decides to get the vaccine after the fact, they will be able to apply for their job back.
All Elderwood employees will need to be fully vaccinated by October 27 at the latest.
The Governor made one last jab at getting holdouts vaccinated at an event in New York City on Monday.
“We want to move on, and the only way we can do that is to ensure everyone is vaccinated, but particularly individuals who are taking care of the people who are sick,” Hochul said.
Hochul has also set up a 24/7 operations center through the Department of Health to track staffing trends around the state.
The next step in the mandate is for staff at home care, hospice and adult facilities. They’ll have to be vaccinated by October 7.
So far, 89 percent of staff in adult care facilities have had at least one dose.