Republicans lawmakers issued a stark warning and more criticism at Governor Kathy Hochul and Health Commissioner Howard Zucker as they say a ‘workforce crisis’ approaches. The criticism is the latest in constant rounds of frustration from Republican lawmakers who feel that Democrat led policies in Albany have negatively impacted the economy and life in New York amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Now, as delta cases continue to surge, and state mandates for healthcare workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19 come to fruition – Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay, R-Pulaski, says the clock is ticking.
All healthcare workers are mandated to get at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by September 27, or face termination. Barclay says the policy needs to be revised, or countless healthcare professionals will be forced out of work.
“While we encourage voluntary vaccinations and safe environments for our medical staff and their patients, our primary concern, the one that has been echoed by so many professionals in the field, is that with an estimated 20 to 25 percent of healthcare workers unvaccinated, we will be facing numerous resignations or firings by the September 27 deadline,” letter to Hochul and Zucker said. “Losing approximately one-quarter of frontline caregivers to a blanket government mandate will decimate the workforce and compromise our safety net at a time when we need our healthcare professionals the most. These are the very workers who served on the frontlines during the height of the pandemic when there was so much uncertainty. We should thank them, not punish them.”
Meanwhile, Barclay says the change is in the best interest of maintaining workforce levels while coronavirus cases and hospitalizations persist.
“Increasing the vaccination rate across New York is critical,” Barclay added. “However it’s completely counterproductive to undermine healthcare services with a unilateral order that removes caregivers from facilities. Many of the same women and men who got us through the pandemic are now facing the threat of losing their jobs. Heavy-handed mandates from Albany caused chaos throughout the pandemic, now we’re facing a self-inflicted workforce crisis by using an approach that will put patients and providers at risk.”
There’s been no indication to date that the state would be inclined to follow Republicans suggestion and modify the mandate.