ALBANY — Nursing homes are being told “we have no staff to offer you or any other nursing home” specifically to relieve staff shortages tied to New York’s new COVID-19 vaccine mandate. By calling the established hotline for help with plug vacancies, the post is learned.
“Despite what the media says, at present, we do not have any staff to offer you or any other nursing home. I’ll log you into our system,” an employee of the state health department that manages the agency’s “Surge and Flex Operations Center” hotline told a nursing home when asked about receiving reinforcements on Oct. – exactly one week after the effective date of the mandate.
“Feel free to call with updates, but there’s no need to call daily hoping that this will be your lucky day,” the operator told the disappointed nursing home, who wished to remain anonymous.
Callers receive an “intake number” and are assigned a case, which is reviewed by the state and assessed the seriousness of the need, according to a source familiar with the hotline.
The government since the mandate took effect on September 27 has been contrary to public statements by Kathy Hochul, as well as an executive order in which she announced that there is a reserve of health workers ready to fill positions after resignation or termination.
The mandate requires all healthcare workers in health facilities to be vaccinated against the deadly virus — unless they have an approved medical exemption — otherwise employers could fire them.
Another nursing home industry source reached the hotline on September 29, who was told “they have no employees.”
According to internal communications obtained by The Post, “they are aware that this was mentioned in the news regarding Vaccine Mandate staffing issues.”
But Hochul opened up on Tuesday during a press conference when it probed into the state’s refusal to release data related to labor shortages in nursing homes or hospitals, which are required to report to DOH in daily surveys.
She argued that health facilities should call the DOH’s “24/7 operations center” to request staff and may even have access to student nurses. In the worst case, the National Guard can be deployed, although the state has not done so.
“We have put in place a system to be accountable to any organization that needs help,” Hochul told reporters in Albany on Tuesday.
“We set up all these opportunities, whether it’s using student nurses, whether people with licenses have missed out, whether someone is coming from another state or not… and so we’ve reached out. We helped offered. Very few have taken [us] On this, because they themselves also need their own emergency staffing plans,” Hochul said.
A DOH representative told The Post that since last Monday the agency has received “about 50 calls” related to staffing requests. But representatives would not say whether any health workers were actually deployed to the facilities.
According to the latest DOH data, the statewide vaccination rate of elderly care workers with at least one shot is 97 percent, up from 92 percent of the workforce on the day the mandate was announced.
Although elderly care facility residents and staff were first in line to get shots last December, efforts to boost vaccination rates have been met with resistance.
But the nursing home could be on track to lose more employees within the coming weeks in a pending federal court case where a judge is expected to rule on or before October 12 that employers would exempt religious workers from receiving the shot. may or may not decline requests.
Hochul has said that he is confident that the mandate in the court will be upheld.
The DOH confirmed to The Post that 2,934 workers have “claimed another exemption, which is the subject of pending litigation” – an allusion to the total number of religious exemptions submitted.
Another 674 statewide medical exemptions have been provided.
According to the DOH as of September 23, New York has 613 nursing homes and about 145,408 workers — but it’s not clear how many workers were fired or resigned because they refused vaccinations.
“They talked about calling the National Guard and importing nurses out of the state and into the country, and now that the facilities say ‘we’re ready to use those,’ the state says, ‘we don’t have any,’ Bill Hammond, senior fellow at the Empire Center for Health Policy.
A nursing home industry source told The Post: “We’ve told [nursing homes] We don’t believe that staff will actually be available because our past history during the pandemic has been just that. ”
“State volunteer corps or hotlines are not able to provide support to long-term care providers… You are more likely to be sent a survey team to your facility instead of new employees,” said the source, DOH. Perhaps the agency will send a group of inspectors to assess the current staffing and safety protocols,” the source said.
Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, more than 15,000 nursing home residents have died from the virus.
defamed the previous government. Andrew Cuomo’s administration for months refused to release data related to the exact number of virus deaths until a state judge forced the DOH to release the figures.
Cuomo’s former top aide then admitted that they “froze” and were concerned about retaliation from the Trump administration over the release of the data.
The FBI and the Eastern District of New York began investigating the matter shortly after and are apparently still investigating the issue.
DOH did not immediately return a request for comment by the Post.