UTICA, N.Y. -- The president of the Home Care Association of New York State spoke with Gov. Kathy Hochul's office Thursday afternoon to plead his case for extending the state-mandated deadline of Oct. 7 for certain health care workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Ed Cardillo says he doesn't think an extension will happen and he says, based on a survey, up to 70,000 home health aids alone could lose their jobs Friday.
The vaccine requirement will take effect for covered personnel at certain facilities regulated by the State Department of Health, including adult care facilities, home health agencies, long-term home health care programs, AIDS home care programs, hospice care, and diagnostic and treatment centers.
Cardillo also says the governor's idea to bring in retirees, students and members of the National Guard to help if needed starting Friday is not a good idea.
He says the home health workers that are losing their jobs are certified and trained specifically for in-home care, and the replacements are not.
Nascentia Health, which provides home health services locally, says they will not lose any staff due to the mandate.
Gail Carmichel, vice president of patient services for Nascentia Health, says the company is not losing any staff members, but they do have a few workers who have provided either a religious or medical exemption. Depending on what happens in court, those staff members may have to ultimately decide on whether to get the vaccine or lose their job.
"It has certainly highlighted differences of opinion within our staff and created a little bit of a challenge in terms of respecting all of their individual wishes and still complying with requirements and mandates for our patients," she said. "So, it's always that gray area, where you can't please everyone all the time and yet we have to protect our patients and sometimes it means our staff have to make difficult decisions."
All hospital workers in the state were required to be vaccinated by the end of September under the same mandate. Hospitals across the state lost thousands of workers who quit or were suspended for non-compliance. Mohawk Valley Health System alone lost 180 employees.