LOWVILLE, N.Y. — An upstate New York hospital said it will pause the delivery of babies in two weeks because of a spate of resignations by maternity unit workers who are objecting to COVID-19 vaccination mandates.
Lewis County General Hospital, in Lowville, will temporarily stop delivering babies after Sept. 24, WWNY reported. During a news conference Friday afternoon, Lewis County Health System CEO Gerald Cayer said seven of the 30 hospital workers who resigned were from the hospital’s maternity ward. He added that another seven maternity unit staffers were undecided about getting the vaccine, the television station reported.
The workers were objecting to a Sept. 27 deadline to receive a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, the Watertown Daily Times reported. Then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued the state mandate on Aug. 23.
Twenty of the staff members who resigned worked in clinical positions like nurses, therapists and technicians, the newspaper reported.
“If we can pause the service and now focus on recruiting nurses who are vaccinated, we will be able to reengage in delivering babies here in Lewis County,” Cayer told reporters.
Cayer said 165 hospital employees, or 27% of the facility’s workforce, have yet to be vaccinated against COVID-19, WWNY reported. There have been 464 workers who have received the vaccine, Cayer said.
“Our hope is as we get closer (to the deadline), the numbers will increase of individuals who are vaccinated, fewer individuals will leave and maybe, with a little luck, some of those who have resigned will reconsider,” Cayer told reporters. “We are not alone. There are thousands of positions that are open north of the Thruway and now we have a challenge to work through, you know, with the vaccination mandate.”
Cayer stressed that the hospital will not be “shutting down services,” the Daily Times reported.
“It just is a crazy time,” Cayer told the newspaper. “It’s not just LCHS-centric. Rural hospitals everywhere are really trying to figure out how we’re going to make it work.”
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