Many hospitals, including St. Joseph’s Hospital, are already dealing with low staffing numbers, and new vaccine mandates are exaggerating the issue.
The deadline for health care workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19 is today. All hospital, long-term care facility and nursing home staff must have gotten at least one dose or face potential termination.
Leaders are working to minimize the mandate’s impact on its workforce and patient care.
St. Joseph's is consolidating operating rooms, according to Dr. Philip Falcone, the chief medical officer. It’s a way to use staff more efficiently and better serve patients. The hospital is not stopping elective surgeries, but it is reviewing scheduled procedures each week and adjusting the capacity based on staffing, Dr. Falcone said.
According to state data, about 85% of workers in CNY hospitals are vaccinated. St. Joe's is one of the least vaccinated hospitals with about 77% of staff vaccinated. The data was last updated Tuesday, September 21, so the number could be a bit higher.
Either way, the hospital says safety is a core value, so it is doing everything to keep colleagues, patients and their families safe. It is working to minimize the number of employees who leave the profession because of the mandate.
Then-Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the mandate on August 16, so hospital staff and other health care workers have had six weeks to respond. Trinity Health, the parent company of St. Joe’s, announced its own vaccine mandate in July.
Other hospitals in the region are responding to the issue, too. Upstate is consolidating its operating rooms. The hospital already postponed elective surgeries. It will prioritize medically necessary and time-sensitive surgeries.
Governor Kathy Hochul will declare a state of emergency to address staffing shortages, if necessary.