25% employee vacancy rate at URMC

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The Finger Lakes Region was already experiencing a shortage of health care workers before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, since then, things have gone from bad to worse.

“We’ve seen some early retirements due to just exhaustion from the two years of the pandemic and then there are issues at home that young parents have to face so, the workforce challenges in health care have been enormous,” said URMC Executive Vice President Kathy Parrinello.

Add to that, the loss of about 300 employees across URMC due to New York State’s vaccine mandate, “we did lose some staff as a result of not wanting to take the vaccine, we also lost staff that decided to travel to other parts of the country,” explained URMC Senior Vice President Steve Goldstein.

This means even if Gov. Kathy Hochul lifted the vaccine mandate for health care workers, many of them are already gone for good; moved to other states without a mandate or traveling agencies.

“Hospitals are running anywhere from 20 to 35% vacancy rates and that’s different in certain specialty areas obviously but our average is about 25% both for the clinical staff and that translates across to all staff,” explained URMC Chief Nurse Executive Dr. Karen Keady.

That may sound high but most of our local nursing homes have an even higher staff vacancy rate.

“There are currently around 1,600 nursing home beds in the community that are not being staffed and are not accessible to the hospital’s needs so, we have great challenges ahead of us,” Goldstein said.

As News10NBC has been reporting, NYS is offering some nursing homes temporary help in the form of National Guard soldiers trained as EMTs but they can’t be used in hospitals.

“For the acute care hospital we really need registered nurses, respiratory therapists and the licensed professionals because that’s the kind of care we provide in the hospital,” Parrinello said.