A New York hospital announced that its baby deliveries and other maternity services would be unavailable beginning September 25 following the mass resignation of 30 workers protesting the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
In a statement to the press, Lewis County Health System CEO Gerald Cayer said that the general hospital would not have enough staff workers to help mothers deliver their babies due to the resignations. Of the 464 employees, about 73 percent have complied with the requirement, and 165 have yet to get the jab.
Two weeks ago, the Lewis County General Hospital imposed an emergency regulation change that informed its employees of the vaccine mandate, which will only honor medical and not religious exemptions. New York has scrapped religious exemptions for vaccinations since the measles outbreak in 2019.
Contingency Plans in Place
The change in the policy comes after then Gov. Andrew Cuomo also imposed a vaccine mandate for all health workers, requiring at least a partial vaccination by September 27. Cayers further said that he supports the vaccine mandates for all health workers since they need to ensure a healthy workforce to deliver essential services to the public.
Cayers reminded the general hospital workers that COVID-19 vaccines work to protect the community at the highest level. As healthcare workers, they have the obligation not to put patients and their co-workers at risk.
The hospital's administrators are currently working out a contingency plan in the event of more resignations. Chief Medical Officer Dr. Sean Harney said they still have a functioning women's health center for outpatient services.
"We'll try to offer as much of the women's health services that we can right at the health system," Harney said. "It's just the maternity department and newborn nursery that are not going to be fully staffed."
Reports cited that 21 of the 30 employees who quit have clinical roles as nurses, medical technicians, and therapists. While three staff members have presented their medical exemptions, Cayers understood that at least a dozen workers will still submit their documentation.
Fines to Be Imposed for Non-Compliance
Meanwhile, as vaccine mandates are now officially underway across the state beginning September 13, workers who have yet to comply before the deadline will have to submit to weekly COVID-19 testings. New York establishments, offices, and schools with no new requirement could be slapped with fines beginning at $1,000.
In-person classes and full-time office work, including city staff members, have also resumed on September 13. Every New Yorker must wear a mask indoors and in communal areas, while certain public spaces will only be open to vaccinated visitors.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said that this Monday is a major "recovery day" despite many businesses saying they have turned away other customers, thus losing potential sales because of the mandate. However, some residents, especially those who frequent the gym, have welcomed the new rule and said they now feel safer in vaccine-only sites.
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