BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — State healthcare workers must have at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by Monday or they will lose their jobs. Trisha Sebastian is an unvaccinated nurse at Olean General Hospital.
“We’re not monsters. We're not selfless. We're just trying to do what's best for our families,” Sebastian said. “I know the majority of the nurses I’ve spoken to that remain unvaccinated are sticking to their guns, holding the line and not going to budge.”
Erie County Medical Center is anticipating losing 10% of their workforce, about 400 unvaccinated employees, on Monday.
ECMC’s Chief Medical Officer, Brian Murray, said everyone, including healthcare workers, should be vaccinated. When asked if it was necessary to have a statewide healthcare vaccine mandate, he said “if that’s what it takes to convince people to get vaccinated."
“In the last 14 months, we have had over 1,400 patients admitted with COVID,” Murray said. “Of those, 140 have died. That’s 10% of the patients admitted with COVID had died. We have not had a single admission of a complication with a COVID vaccine.”
Since 15% of state healthcare workers could potentially lose their job Monday, this may create a medical worker shortage.
“I think there’s a major concern especially in regard to nursing homes,” Murray said. “For some reason, employees in nursing homes have been more reluctant.”
“Vaccinated workers are going to suffer from this,” Sebastian said. “You’re allowed to finish your shift if you’re working on Monday, but after that, you are saying you will be involuntarily resigning from OGH if you don't have your vaccine.”
Governor Kathy Hochul said New York is prepared for a healthcare worker shortage.
“I will be announcing a whole series of initiatives that we are doing to be prepared for a situation on Monday, but this doesn’t need to happen, my friends,” Hochul said. “It does not have to happen.”
Sebastian said she will have to involuntarily resign on Monday and will become a traveling nurse.
“Louisiana, Texas, Florida, and Montana are taking any state license and not requiring vaccinations,” Sebastian said. “Long-term, that just means more time away from my family.”
Catholic Health is allowing workers who have requested religious exemptions towards getting vaccinated to work until courts make a decision on the vaccine mandate. Catholic Health employees who have not received medical exemptions or requested religious exemption by Sunday will be placed on unpaid leave for 30 days. Then, they will subject to termination if they have not met the mandate requirements.