2021-09-25 23:40:22 NY Weighs Using the National Guard to Replace Unvaccinated Health Care Workers

NY Weighs Using the National Guard to Replace Unvaccinated Health Care Workers

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul is considering calling in the National Guard and recruiting medical professionals from other states to cover looming staff shortages at hospitals and other facilities, as the likelihood grows that tens of thousands of health care workers will fail to meet the state’s mandated vaccination deadlines.

The governor’s office said in a statement on Saturday that Ms. Hochul was planning to issue an executive order declaring a state of emergency that would “allow qualified health care professionals licensed in other states or countries, recent graduates, retired and formerly practicing health care professionals to practice in New York State.”

Other options, according to the statement, include deploying medically trained National Guard members to provide care and collaborating with the federal government to deploy Disaster Medical Assistance Teams, which are run by the Department of Health and Human Services.

New York State is one of the first major testing grounds for stricter vaccination mandates that are sweeping the country’s health-care system. California and Maine have also set vaccination deadlines for health care workers. President Biden has stated that his administration will issue a national vaccination mandate, which is expected to affect approximately 17 million health care workers at hospitals and other institutions that accept Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements.

According to state regulations and a mandate issued on Aug. 16 by former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, hospital and nursing home employees in New York must receive a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine by 11:59 p.m. on Monday night, while workers in home care, hospices, and other adult care facilities must do so by Oct. 7.

According to state vaccination data, approximately 70,000 of the state’s roughly 450,000 hospital workers were not fully vaccinated as of Wednesday. According to the data, 15% of workers in skilled nursing facilities and 14% of workers in adult care facilities are not fully vaccinated, totaling approximately 25,000 workers.

Workers who are fired because they refuse to be vaccinated are not eligible for unemployment insurance, according to the governor’s office, unless they provide a doctor-approved request for a medical accommodation.

Ms. Hochul stated in announcing New York’s determination to enforce the deadline, “We are still in a battle against Covid to protect our loved ones, and we need to fight with every tool at our disposal.” She also praised the vast majority of state health care workers for getting vaccinated and urged “all remaining health care workers who are unvaccinated to do so now so they can continue to provide care.”

The Greater New York Hospital Association, which represents approximately 140 health systems and 55 nursing homes, has not responded to the governor’s plan but has supported the deadline for vaccinations for health care workers, indicating that staffing shortages can be managed.

The executive director of the Greater New York Health Care Facilities Association, which represents about 80 nursing homes in the metropolitan area, Michael A.L. Balboni, applauded the governor’s effort to get more health care workers vaccinated but expressed concern about staffing shortages.

“This is a paradox in that you don’t have enough people to provide services and you could end up putting people in danger,” Mr. Balboni explained.

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NY Weighs Using the National Guard to Replace Unvaccinated Health Care Workers