BUFFALO, N.Y. — With Monday's vaccination deadline looming for health care workers in New York State, Gov. Kathy Hochul's office has released a comprehensive plan to help address potential staffing shortages in hospitals and other health care facilities.
According to the governor's office, if deemed necessary, Gov. Hochul will sign an executive order declaring a state of emergency aiming to increase workforce supply.
Under this executive order, any qualified health care professionals who are licensed in other parts of the U.S. or in other countries would be allowed to practice medicine in New York state. This would also apply to recent graduates, as well as retired and formerly practicing health care professionals.
Hochul says she plans on working with state leaders and the federal government to help find ways to expedite visa requests for medical professionals.
In addition, the governor's office says other ways to address the staffing shortages may include deploying medically-trained National Guard members and partnering with the federal government to deploy Disaster Medical Assistance Teams (DMATs).
"We are still in a battle against COVID to protect our loved ones, and we need to fight with every tool at our disposal," Governor Hochul said. "I am monitoring the staffing situation closely, and we have a plan to increase our health care workforce and help alleviate the burdens on our hospitals and other health care facilities. I commend all of the health care workers who have stepped up to get themselves vaccinated, and I urge all remaining health care workers who are unvaccinated to do so now so they can continue providing care."
The governor's office notes that as of Sept. 22, 84% of all hospital employees in the state were fully vaccinated. And as of Sept. 23, 81% of staff at adult care facilities and 77% of staff at nursing home facilities in New York were all fully vaccinated.
The Department of Labor has also issued guidance saying any workers who are terminated for refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19 will not be eligible for unemployment insurance unless they supply a valid doctor-approved request for medical accommodation.
Per the New York State Department of Health, all health care workers must receive at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by Monday, Sept. 27.
Two On Your Side reached out to the local hospital systems here in Western New York for comment about this plan.
Catholic Health provided the following statement:
"Once again, Governor Hochul and the New York State Department of Health are showing their unwavering commitment to healthcare organizations and their heroes during a challenge time with a challenging issue. Catholic Health will continue to be there for our community, minimizing any disruption in services, while we comply with the mandate."