New York hospital to stop delivering babies due to resignations over vaccine mandate
LOWVILLE, New York - As President Joe Biden takes steps to intensify vaccine requirements to millions of American workers, the nation's attention has been turned to a group of workers in a small northeastern community.
Some wonder if their reaction to the vaccination mandate hints at how future responses to the mandate will play out.
According to National Public Radio, Lewis County General Hospital in the New York village of Lowville has had so many workers quit in opposition to the state's COVID-19 vaccination requirements, that the hospital made the decision to stop delivering babies.
The community of just under 4,000 citizens is located 60 miles northeast of Syracuse, and it falls under New York's mandate that all health care workers at hospitals and long-term care facilities across New York be required to have gotten at least their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccination by September 27.
Shortly after state officials announced this vaccination mandate, six employees in the small hospital's maternity chose to resign rather than get the shot and another seven are undecided, hospital officials say.
With 27 percent of its workforce not yet vaccinated and a number of employees stepping down to avoid getting the shot, the hospital said it will officially stop deliveries after September 24.
Gerald Cayer, chief executive of the Lewis County Health System, said, "We are unable to safely staff the service after September 24. The number of resignations received leaves us no choice but to pause delivering babies at Lewis County General Hospital. It is my hope that the Department of Health will work with us in support of pausing the service rather than closing the maternity department."
Cayer added, "Our vaccine vaccination rate is now 73% -- 464 individuals in the health system are now vaccinated. 165 employees are not yet vaccinated. And it is not clear what they will do."
"We have two weeks remaining for 165 staff to receive the first dose of the vaccine. And at the same time, we must develop contingency plans for services we believe are at risk. We can't wait to the last minute. We have not been given much time, and it is a hard deadline before us."
According to Cayer, other departments were at risk "based on the number of unvaccinated individuals in those departments."
He went on to say he supports the mandate for health care workers and others.
The New York State Department of Health's vaccine requirement is in harmony with President Biden's recent announcement regarding the nation's fight against COVID.
Last week, Mr. Biden said he would apply vaccine mandates to 17 million health care workers at facilities receiving funds from Medicare and Medicaid, which expands the mandate to hospitals, home care facilities and dialysis centers in the U.S.