Hospital Won't Deliver Babies After Unvaxxed Staff Resign

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An upstate New York hospital has been forced to temporarily “pause” maternity services after staff members resigned in light of the healthcare worker vaccine mandate.

It’s harrowing enough to see any adult refuse the vaccine, let alone health care workers who ostensibly operate under the strict guidance of science. Lewis County General Hospital in Lowville, New York, had six employees resign over new emergency regulations that mandate employees in New York health care facilities be fully vaccinated against COVID, while another seven are still on the fence. The vaccine mandate went into effect on August 23 and gave health care facilities a little over a month to have employees receive their first dose.

“We are unable to safely staff the service after Sept. 24. The number of resignations received leaves us no choice but to pause delivering babies at Lewis County General Hospital,” Lewis County Health System Chief Executive Officer Gerald Cayer said during a press conference on Sept 10. “It is my hope that the (state) Department of Health will work with us in pausing the service rather than closing the maternity department.”

It is not only the maternity ward at risk of “pausing” its services. Cayer revealed that 30 people had resigned from their roles since the vaccine mandate for healthcare workers went into effect. Local newspaper Watertown Daily Times reports that 20 of the workers who resigned worked in clinical positions, such as nurses, technicians, and therapists. Of the 464 hospital workers, 165 have yet to receive the vaccine. As of Sept. 10, Lewis County had the state’s highest 7-day average percentage of positive COVID test results over the past three days.

The good news is most healthcare workers are pro-vaccine.

Stories like this are unfortunate fuel to anti-vaxxers’ warped agenda, so let’s be clear: health care workers who refuse the vaccine are few and fair in between. The reality is 96% of physicians and 88% of nurses in the U.S. are vaccinated against COVID.

When it comes to pockets of healthcare workers refusing the vaccine, there tend to be a few common factors. According to the CDC, the lowest vaccination rate of health workers was among aides, like certified nursing assistants, nurse aides, and medication aides; these positions usually require a four-to-12-week training course, whereas registered nurses need two-to-four-year degrees and a license. Pockets of hesitation are usually in more conservative areas of the country. Staff hesitation to get vaccinated is also more common in long-term care facilities, like nursing homes, as opposed to hospitals and other critical care units.

This isn’t to undermine the severity of the situation — often, these smaller communities with lower vaccination rates suffer the most. There are already so few hospitals and healthcare facilities, so the loss of even one can have medical professionals making tough choices in term of prioritizing patient care.

Be smart. Get vaccinated.