ALBANY, NY (NEWS10) – Albany Medical Center held a press conference on September 28 to address concerns about staffing shortages as a result of the vaccination mandate for healthcare workers.
To date, 204 of its unvaccinated employees will be placed on seven-day unpaid leave. If they decide not to receive their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine this week, they will be laid off.
Dennis McKenna, MD, president and CEO of Albany Med, said there was no doubt there was a staffing crisis and the NYS vaccine mandate had only made the problem worse. already existing.
“Healthcare workers are at the heart of our community. Albany Med is the region’s largest employer, ”McKenna said. “So the health of our workforce is very much tied to the health of our region and our community. “
McKenna added that Albany Med’s position is unique as it is the only Level I trauma center in 25 counties and the only children’s hospital in the area.
“We take care of the most vulnerable. That’s why we approved the vaccination mandate, ”McKenna said.
Due to the state’s mandate, 204 of Albany Med’s 11,456 employees will be placed on unpaid leave for seven days. During this week, they will have the opportunity to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Otherwise, they will be terminated.
But how are the 204 employees distributed? Forty-eight are nurses, 29 are nursing auxiliaries, 10 are physicians and 6 are students.
News10’s Stephanie Rivas asked Albany Med what positions the other 111 employees held. A representative of Albany Med said: “the rest represents a representative sample of the whole institution”.
In addition, 42 people requested religious or medical dispensation. These employees are still on staff, pending approval of their exemptions. McKenna added that all of those numbers are fluid.
Twenty-five nurses have also resigned since the state’s mandate was announced.
“I think nursing staffing is the heart of the hospital,” said Lisa Massarweh, head nurse. “In my humble opinion, the only reason a patient is admitted to a hospital is for nursing care. “
McKenna said it’s Albany Med’s job to make sure security isn’t affected, and it’s forcing its leaders to make tough decisions.
“Whether or not we have to cut back on elective surgeries. Redeploy people from the ambulatory to the hospital. We have to balance our needs and our staff, and that’s the job we do every day.
It is still unclear what changes Albany Med will need to make to cope with the further losses in tenure and the ongoing struggle for staff. However, McKenna said those decisions will continue to be made for months to come.