Hospitals across the United States are offering employees a choice: get vaccinated, or find a different job. Despite the exemptions provided for genuine medical reasons and for religious beliefs, some nurses and other staff are choosing to walk out. Now one hospital in New York says their labor & delivery department will have to take a break from delivering babies, because they don’t have the staff to maintain it.
The Washington Post reports that Lewis County General Hospital in Upstate New York has had at least half a dozen members of their maternity department staff resign rather than receive the COVID-19 vaccine, and as many more are still making a decision. The result is that as of September 25th, the hospital plans to put the whole department on pause, because they won’t have the staff to safely run it.
According to News10, New York’s Department of Health has removed the religious exemption for this vaccine for healthcare workers, and the first dose must be received by September 27th.
Still, it’s not just anti-vaccination sentiments driving the nursing shortage, though there’s a clear effect in this case. The risks of the virus itself, and burnout with overburdened hospitals, are wearing on healthcare professionals. In May, before mandated vaccines for healthcare workers began to become a norm, CNBC was already reporting on the shortage, with 20-30% of frontline healthcare workers saying they were considering leaving their careers — and this rose to 48% among ICU nurses.
The pandemic has, of course, hit medical workers hard — in April, KHN reported that in a year of caring for COVID-19 patients, more than 3,600 of these frontline carers had died, with the death rate slowing dramatically after the vaccines became available.
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Steph Bazzle reports on social issues and religion for Hill Reporter. She focuses on stories that speak to everyone's right to practice what they believe in and receive the support of their communities and government officials. You can reach her at Steph@HillReporter.com