WNY nurses anticipate staffing shortage following vaccine mandate

Coronavirus

BUFFALO N.Y. (WIVB) — Hospital and nursing home staff have until Monday to get their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. If they don’t workers face being fired.

Governor Kathy Hochul says the expectation is that all healthcare workers across the state will be vaccinated by the Monday deadline.

News 4 caught up with nurses at ECMC who say they’re expecting Monday to be stressful for everyone.

“Nervous, very nervous. My coworkers and I can’t stop talking about how nervous we are,” said ECMC nurse Kaitlin Floyd.

“We can’t keep up with patients now with the staff that we have. What are we going to do?” Asked Diana Marchiano, who works as a nurse at ECMC.

Healthcare workers across the state are expecting the staffing shortage to get much worse once the vaccine mandate goes into effect on Monday. Just at ECMC, hundreds are expected to be out of work.

Marchiano is unvaccinated and although she’s seeking a religious exemption she’s not sure how long that exemption could last.

“You know I’m scared because they’re like threatening my livelihood,” she said. “The whole thing is scary. I’m the breadwinner for my family, I carry the health insurance.”

ECMC tells us unvaccinated workers will be placed on unpaid leave starting Monday, but Floyd, who is vaccinated, says losing any staff member would be detrimental.

“I believe that everyone from housekeeping, dietary, nurses doctors, everyone has the choice but because of the mandate, last I heard we’re going to lose approximately 400 employees, maybe more maybe less but that’s a devastating amount,” she said. “You can feel the tension. Everyone is trying to work together as a team but it’s hard when you’re already short-staffed.”

On Saturday, Hochul outlined a series of steps to address a shortage of employees. It includes declaring a state of emergency to help maintain the workforce. Other options include bringing in medically-trained National Guard members.

Sarah Minkewicz is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.

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