New York State has mandated that all state healthcare workers must receive the COVID-19 vaccination in order to retain employment. Well, some of those workers are fine with the alternative and it's causing great pains for area healthcare systems.

Now former Governor Andrew Cuomo announced in mid-August that all healthcare workers in the state must receive at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by September 27th, 2021. That deadline is quickly approaching and anecdotally, several nurses and other healthcare workers I have spoke to say they would absolutely seek other forms of employment, rather than be forced to receive the shot.

Dr. Kent Hall is the Chief Physician Executive of Mohawk Valley Health System. While he and the hospital strongly advocate for people to get themselves vaccinated, he acknowledges the state mandate may lead to added problems to what they're already dealing with. One common theme for all employers, both public and private, is a worker shortage. More and more "Help Wanted" signs are posted every day and the hospitals at MVHS are no exception.

Dr. Hall says the hospital system is already worried about a shortage of staff, but with the 9/27 deadline looming it could lead to more worry. Dr. Hall says,

The state requirement for our employees - actually not just our employees but employees throughout healthcare - to be vaccinated has caused a lot of consternation in our organization. Our leadership team is very concerned about having adequate staff to care for our patients. Loss of staff because they don’t want to be vaccinated would absolutely interfere with us caring for our patients. We are working with other area hospitals and systems and other state organizations in advocating for our staff in this area. While we’re doing this, we are strongly advocating for all of our community members, including and especially our staff, to get vaccinated so we can drive an end to this pandemic.

There are several reasons why people are not being vaccinated and some may never understand their reasoning. Some people so dedicated to their own personal principals and beliefs may absolutely leave their employer to their own devices if faced with the choice to get the shot or get the boot. While most members of the professional medical community believe the vaccine to be safe, some people still have reservations. The state may need to look long and hard at this mandate, in hopes that it won't lead to a more serious problem.

When asked for specific numbers of vaccinated staff members at the health system, Dr. Hall said they had not completed getting an accurate number and would follow up. This may not be just a problem for hospital systems. This could lead to issues for nursing homes, outpatient medical care facilities and elective medical offices such as plastic surgeons and orthopedic practices. Only time will tell the true impact this mandate will have on healthcare in the state.

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