Well being facility prepares for employees shortages, potential layoffs as vaccination orders for workers are approaching

FREDONIA, NY (WIVB) – An assisted living home in Chautauqua County says it could lose a third of its employees in just a few weeks, and as a result, half of its residents could be laid off. All because of New York State’s mandate that healthcare workers get the COVID vaccine, the administrator says.

“We look at each other like a storm is coming and we are in the eye of the storm,” said Tammy McCool, who is in charge of the WCA home in Fredonia. “We are preparing for the backend to come our way.”

COVID-19 has already ravaged the WCA home, as it has in so many similar facilities around the world. McCool says five residents died from the virus. Another 12 of them went to another facility. Several key employees contracted the virus and never came back, choosing to work elsewhere.

Now the virus strikes again.

With limited exceptions, New York State rules require hospital and nursing home workers to receive at least one COVID vaccination on September 27th. For other facilities like the WCA Home, this deadline is October 7th.

The facility has 21 employees. Seven of them are currently unvaccinated, McCool said. Of those seven, six indicated they had no intention of getting the vaccine and only one said they were considering it. The admin admits that she wishes all seven of them got the chance, but she respects that it is each person’s personal choice.

“It would make life easier for everyone and allow residents to stay here,” said McCool.

Senator George Borrello, who represents the Southern Tier, is closely monitoring the situation.

“These are residents whose children are in many cases seniors,” said Borrello. “How are you looked after? Where are they going? “

“When you have to say goodbye to your neighbor, say goodbye to the staff, and think about starting over at another facility when you are 92 or 95 or 87, that’s really not fair at all. Added McCool.

Healthcare workers are filing “bulk dismissals” because of the state’s vaccination requirements, according to Republicans

On Monday, the New York State Department of Health confirmed that it is aware of the potential problem across the state and said it would listen to any contributions that help protect patients, visitors, the public and health care workers . But they also emphasized the importance of the requirement.

“The department is aware of potential staffing concerns, but our primary focus is on protecting patients and residents in our health care facilities, so everyone who is medically capable should be vaccinated, especially health care workers who are our most vulnerable People interact and care for them. “New Yorkers,” health officials wrote in the statement.

Opponents of the health worker vaccination mandate won a small victory on Tuesday. A federal judge in Utica issued an injunction that would prevent the state from asking employers to deny religious exemptions. Hazel Crampton-Hays, a spokeswoman for Governor Kathy Hochul, said the state is considering all legal options. She stated that the judge’s order does not suspend the vaccination mandate, but simply prevents the Department of Health from enforcing the mandate when individuals request a religious exemption.

“Governor Hochul is doing everything in her power to protect New Yorkers and combat the Delta variant by increasing vaccination rates across the state,” said Crampton-Hayes. “The duty to vaccinate health workers is critical to this fight.”

Chris Horvatits is an award-winning reporter who joined the News 4 team in December 2017. See more about his work here.

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