A staffing crisis already staking a claim in Chautauqua County may go from bad to worse for some health care facilities due to New York state’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
Lisa Haglund estimates between 70 and 100 unvaccinated workers at Heritage Ministries may end up quitting at locations across Chautauqua County before a state-imposed deadline. That’s about 10% of the Heritage workforce, said the president and CEO of the nonprofit organization that offers rehabilitation, skilled nursing, assisted living and long-term care options at several facilities.
“We’re all in this trial together,” Haglund said of the mandate’s potential impact on staffing. “We’re at a point of losing a portion of our staff.”
Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo in August mandated that all health care workers get their first dose of the vaccine by September 27. All other health care facilities — including diagnostic and treatment centers, home health agencies, long-term home health care programs, school-based clinics and hospice care programs — must have workers vaccinated by October 7.
A federal judge on Tuesday did temporarily block New York from enforcing the mandate after a lawsuit was filed by a group of 17 health professionals who said their Constitutional rights were violated because the mandate disallowed religious exemptions.
Meanwhile, Haglund said Heritage has been monitoring its staffing situation regularly and already has had to reduce admissions in order to ensure proper care for its current residents.
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