New York – Thousands of workers dealing with the complex care of some of New York’s most vulnerable could be out of jobs on Friday as the second phase of Gov. Kathy Hochul’s vaccine mandate takes effect.
Some 250,000 home health workers had by midnight to provide proof of at least one dose of a COVID shot or face the threat of unemployment.
“To date, the burden of this mandate to get everyone vaccinated is unrealistic,” said Joe Pecora, vice president of America’s Home Healthcare Workers.
The union represents approximately 32,000 home health aides across the state, 90% of whom are women of color.
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“We’re only at an 80% vaccination rate and every percentage of less than 100 means thousands of New Yorkers will go without our services,” Pechora said.
The mandate applies to everyone working in adult care facilities, home health agencies, long-term home health care programs, and hospice care.
An industry which is already grappling with massive labor shortage.
“To be clear, I have been vaccinated. We are encouraging our members to get vaccinated, we just need more time,” Pechora said.
Governor Hochul has already declared a state of emergency in health care staffing that allows him to deploy the National Guard and recruit student nurses and out-of-state staff to temporarily fill staffing gaps, if necessary.
“You have to be specially trained to provide these services,” said Al Cardillo, president of the NY Home Care Association. “It takes three hours at home to just do a nurse assessment, and it takes specialized courses of certification to be able to do it,” Cardillo said.
A recent survey by the union found that more than 10,000 of their home health colleagues say they would rather resign voluntarily than get the shot, as well as 894 nurses and 1,000 other critical agency workers.
“We are talking about a policy that makes a rock, it makes a rock that you will be terminated if you are not vaccinated, but the next day, the next hour what on individuals on these services. have an impact on ?” Cardillo said.