ALBANY, NY – New York State is coming up on a deadline for all healthcare workers to be vaccinated in order to work at their jobs. On Monday, thousands of unvaccinated healthcare workers, many of whom worked through the entire height of the pandemic before the COVID-19 vaccine, could begin to lose their jobs.
In anticipation of the looming hospital and medical care industry labor shortage as a result of those Americans being terminated from their jobs and careers, Governor Kathy Hochul unveiled her plan to replace them with workers from foreign nations such as the Phillippines.
Her plan to backfill openings lost by the firing of non-vaccinated workers is now hinging upon approval from the U.S. State Department.
“This is something we’re working on with the U.S. Department of State,” Hochul said. “This is a conversation we’ve already been having to talk about the opportunity we have in freeing up the visa system to have some temporary workers come from places like the Phillippines where many nurses go elsewhere.”
Hochul also said she has spoken to the Prime Minister of Ireland asking if that country had any healthcare workers they can send to New York to alleviate the looming shortage.
The governor said however, she has no short-term plan to ensure hospitals, healthcare facilities and long-term care facilities don’t go understaffed.
Since the pandemic was declared last March, healthcare workers across the country, deemed essential employees were encouraged to work as most of the country stayed home and quarantined. Without a vaccine until late November, those workers risked their lives each day on the front lines of the pandemic to save COVID-19 patients. Many caught the virus and died because of the lack of protection against the vaccine in the early months of the pandemic.
Hochul also said she is considering changing the state’s healthcare licensing requirements to allow more out-of-state workers to work in New York.
“I think everyone understands that last year was a different dynamic of the authority by the governor under the emergency declaration,” she said. “Now I have to figure out how to get around it.”
She said she has the responsibility to ensure healthcare facilities are safe for the people who visit them and those people need healthy workers who will not spread the virus to them.
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