Governor Kathy Hochul said on Saturday she was ready to bring in medically trained National Guard members, retirees and workers outside New York to deal with potential staff shortages caused by the ‘approach of avaccination mandate for health workers.
If necessary, Hochul said, she will declare a state of emergency through an executive order to address staffing shortages in hospitals and nursing homes once the warrant goes into effect on Monday.
Many healthcare workers still haven’t received the required first injection of the COVID-19 vaccine days before the deadline, leaving the possibility that thousands of healthcare workers will be forced out of work next week.
The order would allow medical professionals licensed in other states or countries, recent graduates or former medical professionals to practice in New York City, Hochul said, noting that she was exploring ways to speed up visa applications for health professionals.
The governor said she also has the option of deploying members of the National Guard and partnering with the federal government to deploy disaster medical assistance teams.
“I am closely monitoring the staff situation and we have a plan to increase our health care workforce and help ease the burden on our hospitals and other health facilities,” she said in a prepared statement.
State hospitals prepared contingency plans that included reducing elective surgeries. Many retirement homes restricted admissions.
“We are currently about 84% vaccinated statewide, so any initiatives the governor might come up with to increase staffing are welcome and necessary,” said Stephen Hanse, who represents nursing homes across the country. ‘State as president of the New York State Health Facilities Association. and the New York State Center for Assisted Living.
Hochul, a Democrat, has resisted calls to delay the mandate, and her 11-hour announcement could increase pressure on vaccine laggers. She said workers fired for refusing to be vaccinated are not eligible for unemployment insurance without a medical accommodation application approved by a doctor.