New York hospital to stop delivering babies as staffers quit over vaccine mandate
A hospital in rural New York is pausing its maternity services as employees quit instead of getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
Six employees at the Lewis County Health System have resigned, and seven more are unwilling to get vaccinated, meaning Lewis County General Hospital will stop delivering babies for the time being, multiple news outlets reported.
"We are unable to safely staff the service after Sept. 24," said Lewis County Health System CEO Gerald R. Cayer at a news conference.
The move appears to be temporary. During the pause in maternity services, Cayer said the health system will focus on recruiting nurses to get baby deliveries back up and running.
"We have a challenge to work through with the vaccination mandate," Cayer said.
Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo passed a mandate Aug. 16 to ensure that all healthcare workers in New York must be vaccinated. More specifically, hospitals and long term care facility employees need to get their first dose of the vaccine by Sep. 27.
The original mandate included religious exemptions, but an emergency regulation passed by the New York Department of Health on Aug. 27 said that religious exemptions would no longer be considered for as a reason for healthcare workers to remain unvaccinated.
Cayer says he supports the vaccine mandate and that it is the key to maintaining a "healthy workforce," NBC reports.
At Lewis County General Hospital, 27% of employees are unvaccinated, Cayer said.
Lewis County has recorded 2,626 COVID-19 cases and 31 deaths out of a population of 25,916. Only 46% of its population is vaccinated with one or more dose, below the national average of 63%.
Hospitals around the nation have offered incentives to attract employees to get vaccinated, including thousands of dollars in sign on bonuses. All over the nation, hospitals have suffered from nursing shortages as COVID cases surge with the delta variant.