An upstate New York hospital said it would soon pause the delivery of babies due to maternity unit workers quitting their jobs because of the COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
On Aug. 16, then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the state was implementing a vaccine mandate for all health care workers, including staff at hospitals and long-term care facilities, nursing homes, adult care, and other congregate care settings. Cuomo's order required all health care workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Sept. 27.
However, some health care workers are refusing to receive the coronavirus vaccine, which has caused hospitals to be short-staffed. At the Lewis County General Hospital in Lowville, New York, nearly half of the maternity ward employees at the hospital have resigned over the mandate or are considering not to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
During a news conference on Friday afternoon, Lewis County Health System CEO Gerald Cayer announced that of the 30 hospital workers who have resigned, 21 are in clinical areas. There are six employees in the maternity who will quit over the COVID-19 vaccine mandate, and another seven who are undecided about getting the vaccine, according to WWNY-TV.
Cayer said the hospital will be unable to staff the maternity ward safely, and will pause delivering babies after Sept. 24. He noted that he hopes the closure will be temporary, and will seek assistance from the state's Department of Health to keep the maternity ward open, which was already short-staffed before the resignations. A hospital official said there is a "shortage of nursing staff in the region, pre-mandate."
"If we can pause the service and now focus on recruiting nurses who are vaccinated, we will be able to reengage in delivering babies here in Lewis County," Cayer said.
"Our hope is as we get closer (to the deadline), the numbers will increase of individuals who are vaccinated, fewer individuals will leave and maybe, with a little luck, some of those who have resigned will reconsider," Cayer said.
Cayer noted that 27% of the hospital's employees are unvaccinated against COVID-19.
The Lewis County Health System has five employees in quarantine, five employees in isolation, and four community members hospitalized who are COVID-positive.
Cayer said he supports the vaccine mandate, saying vaccines combined with masks provide the "highest level of protection."
"It just is a crazy time," Cayer stated. "Rural hospitals everywhere are really trying to figure out how we're going to make it work."
In Detroit, roughly 50 health care employees launched a lawsuit against the Henry Ford Health System over its COVID-19 vaccine mandate. The lawsuit claims that the forced vaccines violate the Fourteenth Amendment's protection of "personal autonomy and bodily integrity."
Vaccine mandates have also caused bus drivers to quit their jobs in Chicago.
In August, the Chicago Public Schools experienced a mass resignation of school bus drivers. Approximately 10% of drivers resigned before schools reopened.
"According to the bus companies, the rush of resignations was likely driven by the vaccination requirements," a statement from the district said. "As a result, the district went from being able to provide all eligible students a bus route, to being unable to accommodate transportation for approximately 2,100 students within a matter of days."