UPDATE: State Senator Pam Helming issued a statement Thursday responding to the call to roll back the mandate:
“Crisis. Overwhelmed. Dire. Crippling. These are just a few of the words used in headlines over the last several months to describe the situation in our local hospitals. Despite the concerns we continue to hear from hospital and nursing home administrators, nurses and staff, New York State issues yet another mandate that could further impact staffing in our health care facilities and jeopardize their ability to safely care for the people of our communities. I have continued to advocate for a rigorous testing program to give our hospitals and nursing homes greater flexibility in staffing. The health care workforce is overburdened and burned out. We need to help them, not crush them with more mandates.”
County government officials in the 11 counties the state calls the Finger Lakes region have written to Governor Kathy Hochul, urging her to roll back the state’s vaccine booster mandate for health care workers.
The letter cites the staffing shortages at health care facilities throughout the area:
January 12, 2022
The Honorable Kathy Hochul
Governor of New York State
New York State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224
Dear Governor Hochul,
We write today to ask you, respectfully, to reconsider the newly announced vaccine booster mandate for healthcare workers. As with the original vaccine mandate for healthcare workers, each county leader represented here fully supports the value of vaccinations and has worked tirelessly to administer vaccinations to our citizens.
While we fully support the importance of vaccinations to help protect our communities against COVID-19, our hospital systems are facing severe staffing shortages coupled with increasing patient loads caused by the Omicron surge. We have significant concerns that if even a handful of healthcare workers are dismissed for their refusal to receive the booster within the designated time frame, it could exacerbate an already tenuous situation.
The below-signed counties would be in favor of offering a test-out option for fully vaccinated healthcare workers who do not receive the recommended booster shot within the prescribed time frame on a temporary basis until the Omicron wave subsides and the hospital capacity crisis abates.
We understand the policy goal to increase booster administration and protect critical frontline healthcare workers from infection by ensuring they have the maximum protection possible through vaccine and booster administration. Our concerns are the potential negative impacts to an already beleaguered healthcare workforce at a time when our communities can least afford it.
Thank you for your consideration of this important matter.
The Counties of the Finger Lakes Region:
Monroe County Legislature President Sabrina LaMar
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