Chris Lieberman, FISM News
A hospital in upstate New York announced Friday that they will be temporarily suspending baby deliveries beginning Sept. 25 because of staffing shortages in the maternity department. These shortages are due to hospital employees resigning over the state’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
Lewis County General Hospital, located in Lowville, New York, has seen at least 30 employees resign from their jobs, including six from the maternity department. “We are unable to safely staff the [maternity] service after 24 September,” Gerald Cayer, CEO of the Lewis County Health System, said on Friday. “The number of resignations received leaves us no choice but to pause delivering babies at Lewis County General Hospital.”
While deliveries at Lewis County General are paused, local residents in need of maternity services will need to travel at least 15 miles to the nearest hospital.
In addition to the 30 who resigned, 165 of the hospital’s 629 employees remain unvaccinated. On Aug. 16, the New York State Department of Health mandated that all patient-facing healthcare workers get at least one dose of the vaccine by Sept. 27 or face termination. The order allows for medical exemptions, but not religious ones. Cayer said it was unclear how many of the remaining unvaccinated employees plan to get vaccinated before the deadline.
When asked about the hospital’s plan on how to continue offering maternity services, Cayer said, “Our hope is as we get closer, the numbers will increase of individuals who are vaccinated, fewer individuals will leave, and maybe with a little luck, some of those who have resigned will reconsider.”
Despite the resignations, Cayer did not blame the vaccine mandate for the closure. He said, “Essential health services are at risk. Not because of the mandate. The mandate ensures we will have a healthy workforce and that we are not responsible for transmission in or out of our facilities.”
The problem of hospital staffing shortages is not exclusive to Lewis County. Nationwide, the healthcare industry is seeing workers leave the profession as the pandemic reaches its eighteenth month in the United States. The problem will likely only get worse as more healthcare workers resign over vaccine mandates.
The issue of vaccine mandates has been at the heart of the national conversation since President Biden announced his federal vaccine mandate last week. Critics argue that such mandates will worsen the national labor shortage and hit vital industries, including healthcare.
Kaylee McGhee White wrote of Biden’s mandate in the Washington Examiner:
There is a reason companies such as Delta, Southwest, and American Airlines, and hospital systems across the country, are not mandating the vaccine despite external pressure to do so: They cannot afford to lose employees, but they reasonably fear they will lose some if they roll out a vaccine mandate. Indeed, a study last month found that 44% of employees across the country would quit their jobs if their employer mandated getting vaccinated. If this mandate goes into effect, tens of thousands of people will quit their jobs, and the industries that are already suffering from shortages will suffer even more.