UTICA, N.Y. (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) – New York healthcare workers had to receive their first dose of the vaccine by Monday September 27th in-order-to continue their employment and this has caused staffing shortages within the Mohawk Valley Health System (MVHS). They recently held a press conference outlining exactly what the impacts will mean for the community going forward.
Currently, 120 employees have decided to get the vaccine and 100 religious and 34 medical exemptions have been granted. But, there are still 180 employees who have chosen to be placed on unpaid administrative leave rather than follow the mandate. If they do not change their minds by October 9th, they will lose their jobs with MVHS entirly. Those with exemptions have until October 12th.
“MVHS supports vaccines for COVID as a significant safety tool for our employees, our patients and our community. However, we also recognize that our employees have the freedom to choose whether or not to get the vaccine. As a result of the mandate, 180 employees have separated from MVHS which brings our vacancy rate to 17.5 percent. Prior to the mandate, our vacancy rate was already 13.7 percent.”- Darlene Stromstad, FACHE, president/CEO of MVHS
A “reinstatement” period of 21 from from October 9th to October 28th will allow anyone that was terrminated after the deadline to get vaccinated or to get an approved exemption, in which case they may return to their former or comparable position with a full reinstatement of all their benefits.
With such a high rate of employee losses some minor delays are expected. But, a plan of operation has been put in place and all services at both the St. Luke’s and St. Elizabeth Campuses are expected to continue.
“Please be prepared for waits for phone calls that don’t get returned right away for delays in service if you need to go to the ER or the hospital please do if you can call your physician first please do that.” – Darlene Stromstad, FACHE, president/CEO of MVHS
Here is what the community should know related to MVHS services going forward:
- Hospital services at both campuses will continue operating – Medical Surgical, Intensive Care, Intermediate Care and Maternity units as well as Emergency Departments (ED). However, MVHS has been and expects to continue to experience higher-than-average volumes in the EDs so patients may experience longer wait times for routine care. MVHS continues to work with other regional hospitals to address capacity issues as they arise.
- Elective surgery. Surgeries will continue at both hospitals, with some limited capacity.
- Ancillary services for hospital patients. Patients and patient rooms/areas are the key priorities for ancillary services such as food and nutrition and housekeeping. Other, non-clinical areas will experience delays and decrease level of services. For example, deli services in the cafeteria have been paused so those workers can provide support and assistance in making and delivering food to patients.
- Outpatient imaging services (X-ray, CT scan, etc.). All sites will continue running, however there may be longer waiting times for some diagnostic testing due to reduced capacity.
- Sleep Center. At this time, the office will remain open to provide care and services to already established patients, but will not be able to accept new patients.
- Laboratories. Services at one lab site in the community, 86 Genesee Street, will be temporarily paused. Additionally, hours are being reduced at the lab located at the St. Elizabeth Campus; the new hours are 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays and Sundays.
- Dialysis. All current patients will continue their treatment, but services will be consolidated at specific locations with some different hours. Impacted patients have been notified.
- Transportation. There may be some delays in and the inability to transport patients through Senior Network Health.
- Long-Term Care. The MVHS Rehabilitation and Nursing Center is not accepting new residents at this time.