BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — ECMC announced it will suspend inpatient elective surgeries, preparing for staffing shortages due to the NYS COVID-19 vaccine requirement for health care workers.
On August 16 NYS announced health care workers at hospitals and long-term care facilities, including nursing homes, adult care and other congregate care settings, would be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by September 27.
On September 14, a federal judge in Utica issued a temporary restraining order blocking the COVID-19 vaccine requirement after a group of health care workers sued, saying their Constitutional rights were violated. Corey Hogan, an attorney at HoganWillig Attorneys at Law, said the complaint is focused on the fact that the vaccine mandate only allows for a medical exemption and does not allow for a religious exemption.
Tuesday, a federal judge extended the temporary restraining order until October 12 for health care workers seeking a religious exemption.
ECMC's suspension of elective surgeries is part of a contingency plan as it prepares for staffing shortages due to the vaccine requirement. ECMC said the plan also includes the following:
- Open ECMC’s Incident Command Center to monitor all hospital operations closely.
- Suspend elective inpatient surgeries (elective outpatient surgeries will not be suspended).
- Will temporarily until further notice not accept ICU transfers from other area institutions.
- Reduce units at Terrace View Long-Term Care facility.
- Reduce hours at ECMC’s outpatient clinics, so staff can support inpatient care in the main hospital.
An ECMC spokesperson said Monday the hospital recorded the single busiest day for inpatients in ECMC’s history at 553 inpatients, the medical center is licensed for 573 beds.
The spokesperson said ECMC anticipates approximately 400 staff (10% of the workforce) will not be vaccinated by Monday, between ECMC employees and medical staff the spokesperson says approximately 85% are vaccinated.
"We are bringing in extra staff. We are canvassing some of our retirees to come back and work," said Dr. Sam Cloud, the associate medical director at ECMC.
Come Monday, ECMC will implement an incident command center.
"The incident command center will help us to monitor the building and make sure that we're deploying resources we need to," added Cloud.
Governor Kathy Hochul says if healthcare workers want to keep their job, they need to get vaccinated.
"To those who refuse, we will find replacements. We will be working very closely to have a multi-pronged approach which I'll be announcing shortly," said Hochul.