ALBANY, N.Y. (WKBW) — Governor Kathy Hochul has now signed an executive order aimed at alleviating potential hospital staffing shortages that are arising amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The order, signed just before 12:00 a.m. Tuesday, both expands healthcare workforce eligibility and directs the New York State Department of Health Operations Center to constantly monitor hospital staffing operations statewide and help troubleshoot problems as they arise.
It features several provisions aimed at helping hospitals meet their staffing needs and increase testing and vaccination capabilities, including the following:
- Allowing out-of-state and out-of-country health care workers to practice in New York; this includes physicians, RNs, LPNs, NPs, PAs, midwives, clinical nurse specialists, licensed master social workers, and licensed clinical social workers
- Waiving re-registration fees, creating an expedited re-registration process, and eliminating barriers for retirees to re-enter the workforce
- Allowing practitioners to work or volunteer in other facilities
- Allowing physician visits in nursing homes to be done using telemedicine
- Removing barriers for EMTs and Advanced EMTs to practice and assist in additional settings, allowing basic EMTs to vaccinate and test for COVID-19, extending all EMS providers' certification period by one year, modifying certification requirements, and permitting out of state providers to operate in the New York State EMS System
- Allowing New York State-licensed providers without current registrations to practice without penalty for lack of registration
- Allowing graduates of SED-registered programs (NP, Lab, RN, LPN) to practice in a hospital or nursing home for 180 days following graduation
- Providing flexibilities for clinical labs to increase testing capacity
- Allowing additional healthcare workers, such as midwives, registered nurses, physicians, and nurse practitioners, to administer and order COVID-19 vaccinations and testing
Tonight I signed an executive order to take bold action to alleviate potential health care staffing shortages following our vaccine mandate that keeps all New Yorkers healthy and safe. pic.twitter.com/dIAGl0DH5z— Kathy Hochul (@GovKathyHochul) September 28, 2021
The executive order allows hospital facilities to discharge, transfer, or receive patients quickly, as long as they comply with federal law and protect patient and community health and safety.
It also suspends requirements for preauthorization review for scheduled surgeries in hospital facilities, hospital admissions, hospital outpatient services, home health care services following a hospital admission, and inpatient rehabilitation services following a hospital admission, as well as suspends concurrent and retrospective review of claims during the duration of the order.
Governor Hochul's office plans to work with other state and federal leaders to speed up requests for medical professionals and is even considering deploying medically-trained National Guard members if necessary.
The order follows the state's mandate that healthcare workers be vaccinated for COVID-19 and comes as hospitals and healthcare organizations around Western New York place unvaccinated workers on unpaid leave and face strikes over the mandate. About 100 Kaleida Health employees will lose their jobs over the mandate.
As of Monday evening, the state said 92% of nursing home staff and 89% of adult care facility staff had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Hospitals reported about 84% of staff members had received at least one dose as of September 22 but self-reported data showed that 92% of hospital staff were at least partially vaccinated as of Monday.