Hospitals worry about ‘staffing crisis’ over unvaccinated workers

LOWVILLE, New York (WWNY) - Some health care workers are wondering what will happen to their jobs now that the state has mandated they receive COVID-19 vaccines. Some of them simply don’t want the shot and that’s causing concern about staffing levels at hospitals.

Last week, Governor Cuomo announced that all health care workers in the state must receive at least the first dose of the COVID vaccine by September 27.

The problem is that some don’t want to get the vaccine. Sasha Morse is one of them. She’s an X-ray technician at Lewis County Health System, is 22 weeks pregnant, and fears the vaccine could cause her to lose her child.

“I shouldn’t be in this position. Sorry, it makes me so emotional. I don’t think anyone should be in this position. I don’t want to lose my job, but I don’t want the possibility of losing my baby,” said Morse.

Earlier this month, the CDC reported data that says the vaccine is safe for pregnant women. However, Morse says she doesn’t want to take any chances.

Jake Hollis is another health care worker who doesn’t want to get vaccinated yet, but he says that doesn’t mean they should get kicked to the curb.

“I mean, for the last year and a half, we’ve been in the trenches. And now all of a sudden, we’re not good enough,” said

Hollis, a registered respiratory therapist at Lewis County Health System.

Hollis says he’d be willing to leave the state for another job if it comes down to it. One unvaccinated employee says the vaccinated crowd at the hospital shares their frustration.

“They think that we should have the right to choose what we are putting in our bodies,” said Kara Marks, CNA, Lewis County Health System.

Those three employees represent just a fraction of worried employees. Gerald Cayer, Lewis County Health System’s CEO, says 802 employees work for the hospital and 224 of them haven’t been vaccinated. He’s worried about what will happen if many of them leave.

“If we have to separate from those individuals who are not vaccinated, it’s going to take a staffing challenge and convert it into a staffing crisis,” said Cayer.

Cayer says the health system received its first resignation on Monday and he’ll do everything in his power to keep as many employees as possible.

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