Story at a glance

  • Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo last month mandated that all health care workers at hospitals and long-term care facilities must have at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine by Sept. 27.
  • Six employees in the maternity unit at Lewis County General Hospital have resigned rather than get the shot, and another seven are undecided, resulting in a critical staff shortage.
  • “The number of resignations received leaves us no choice but to pause delivering babies at Lewis County General Hospital,” hospital officials said Friday.

An upstate New York hospital will stop delivering babies later this month after several maternity workers have resigned due to COVID-19 vaccination mandates. 

Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo last month mandated that all health care workers at hospitals and long-term care facilities must have at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine by Sept. 27. 

During a Friday news conference, Lewis County Health System CEO Gerald Cayer said 30 employees have resigned and 30 have been vaccinated since the mandate was announced in August. Of the 30 who stepped down from Lewis County General Hospital, 21 work in clinical areas. 

He said 165 employees, 27 percent of the hospital system’s workforce, are not vaccinated, and it is “not clear what they will do.” The hospital has approved three medical exemptions, and an additional 12 have indicated they will seek exemptions but have yet to request them. 

At least 464 people in the hospital system have been vaccinated, a 73 percent immunization rate. 

Cayer said six employees in the maternity unit at Lewis County General Hospital have resigned rather than get the shot and another seven are undecided, resulting in a critical staff shortage that will pause maternity services. 


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“We are unable to safely staff the service after September 24th. The number of resignations received leaves us no choice but to pause delivering babies at Lewis County General Hospital,” Cayer said Friday. 

“There are several other clinical departments at risk based on the number of unvaccinated individuals in those departments. We are encouraging staff to get vaccinated,” he said. 

Cayer said many employees have expressed concern with “how fast all of this is happening.” 

“We haven’t been given much time, and it’s a hard deadline before us,” he said. 

Hospital officials are working on contingency plans to provide maternity services to patients. Officials noted maternity departments were already short-staffed prior to the resignations. 


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Published on Sep 13, 2021