Lewis County General Hospital in New York has announced that it will temporarily close its maternity hospital after the resignation of several nurses in the weeks following the introduction of the Covid-19 vaccine mandate.
The hospital will stop giving birth starting Sept. 25, two days before the deadline for all New York state healthcare workers to receive a first dose of the vaccine, the CEO of the healthcare system said. Lewis County Gerald Cayer at a press conference last week.
“We are not able to staff the department safely after September 24. The number of resignations received leaves us no choice but to suspend the delivery at Lewis County General Hospital,” a- he added. he said.
New York’s vaccination mandate for hospitals and long-term care facilities was announced by then-Governor Andrew Cuomo in mid-August. Under the mandate, all healthcare workers must receive at least one dose of the vaccine until September 27. He then removed religious exemptions, leaving only medical exemptions.
A total of 30 hospital staff, including 21 who worked in clinical fields, resigned after the tenure was announced, Cayer said. The maternity hospital was also affected by the exodus and saw six nurses leave. Seven other employees taking care of the maternity and nursery are still “undecided” if they stay, the CEO noted.
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Overall, the hospital has a 73% vaccination rate, with 464 staff members having been vaccinated to date. After Cuomo’s vaccination policy was announced, 30 more employees chose to be vaccinated. Three employees have been granted medical exemptions and 12 others are currently applying for one.
However, a large portion of the hospital staff – 165 people – have yet to be vaccinated, Cayer reported. He added that it was “not clear when they will [it]. “ Failure to meet the new mandate could cause problems for other hospital departments, Cayer admitted.
In addition to motherhood, “Several other clinical departments are at risk [of shutting down] depending on the number of unvaccinated,He said, without providing further details.
Cayer said he intends to reopen the maternity ward by enlisting help from the state’s health ministry and recruiting vaccinated nurses to replace those who have left. He even expressed hope that some of the workers who left, seemingly exasperated by the mandatory vaccinations, would change their minds and come back.
“With a little luck, some of those who have resigned will reconsider their decision”, Cayer said.
Lewis County has been designated as a very high transmission area for Covid-19 under guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Hospitalizations have jumped about 35% in the past two weeks, however, no deaths have been reported. About 54% of the county’s total population has been fully vaccinated.
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