Hochul considering deployment of National Guard to address health worker shortage
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) is considering deploying the medically trained members of the National Guard ahead of an anticipated shortage of health care workers.
Hochul released a comprehensive plan to address staff shortages in New York facilities Saturday, amid concerns that a large number of health care employees will not meet Monday’s vaccine deadline.
“We are still in a battle against COVID to protect our loved ones, and we need to fight with every tool at our disposal,” Hochul said, according to a release on the state website. “I am monitoring the staffing situation closely, and we have a plan to increase our health care workforce and help alleviate the burdens on our hospitals and other health care facilities.
The plan, announced by the state government lays out several options in the event of a staff shortage.
First the governor said that she would sign an executive order declaring a state of emergency to route additional workforce supply into New York. This includes allowing qualified healthcare workers licensed in other states to practice in New York.
Other options, according to the statement, included deploying medically trained professionals of the National Guard, partnering with the federal government to deploy Disaster Medical Assistance Teams and working with the federal government to expedite visa requests for medical professionals.
In Saturday’s statement, Hochul also advised all healthcare workers to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
“I commend all of the health care workers who have stepped up to get themselves vaccinated, and I urge all remaining health care workers who are unvaccinated to do so now so they can continue providing care,” she said.
By 11:59 p.m. Monday, all healthcare workers must have the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, while staff at other facilities, including home care, hospice, and adult care facilities, must be vaccinated by Oct. 7.
Workers terminated because they refuse to be vaccinated are also not eligible for unemployment insurance unless they provide a medical accommodation from a doctor, the statement noted.
As of Wednesday, 84 percent of healthcare workers in New York are fully vaccinated, according to state data.