NY governor eyes National Guard deployment to tackle heath care staff shortage

Amid an anticipated shortage of health care workers in New York prompted by an impending deadline for compliance with that state’s vaccine mandate, Democrat Gov. Kathy Hochul has indicated her willingness to deploy National Guard members to step into the roles of those who have not received COVID-19 jabs and lose their jobs as a result, according to The Hill.

The outlet reported that concerns have grown in the Empire State that a substantial number of health care workers would be unlikely to meet this week’s deadline to receive at least a first dose of vaccination against the coronavirus, a scenario which would produce an alarming drop in the number of employees available to treat patients.

In response, Hochul put forth a plan designed to address the situation, saying, “We are still in a battle against COVID to protect our loved ones, and we need to fight with every tool at our disposal.”

Part of the governor’s plan involved signing an executive order – which she did Monday night – initiating a state of emergency so as to facilitate the routing of additional supplies of workers in to the state, including individuals licensed in other jurisdictions.

Hochul’s plan also detailed the option of deploying members of the National Guard trained in health care professions and working in conjunction with the federal government to utilize Disaster Medical Assistance Teams and to secure expedited visas for those with medical training and expertise.

As NPR noted, the labor department in New York recently issued guidance that made it clear that any healthcare worker who is fired for refusing COVID-19 vaccination would also be ineligible to receive unemployment insurance compensation, unless they were able to produce “a valid doctor-approved request for medical accommodation.”

Haughtily dismissive of any New Yorker who might be skeptical or hesitant with regard to vaccination, Hochul over the weekend also suggested that no religious exemptions to the state’s mandates would have any grounding in legitimacy, stating, “I’m not aware of a sanctioned religious exemption from any organized religion. In fact, they are encouraging the opposite.”

Albany CBS affiliate station WWNY reported that according to Hochul, the state’s Department of Health will be monitoring health care staffing levels around the clock, and that by the time she signed the executive order on Monday, 92% of nursing home staffers had received at least a first vaccine dose, as had 89% of workers in adult care facilities and 92% of hospital staff.

New York is certainly not the only part of the country staring down the barrel of serious health care staff shortages as a result of growing opposition to vaccine mandates, as the Noviant Health hospital system in North Carolina announced this week that approximately 175 of its workers were fired for non-compliance with its shot requirement, representing one of the largest such mass-terminations to date and, perhaps, a sign of things to come.