Executive order aimed to help healthcare worker shortages in effect along with vaccine mandate

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — New York’s vaccine mandate for healthcare workers and an executive order from Gov. Kathy Hochul in response to any staffing shortages that vaccine mandate may lead to kicked in overnight.

Gov. Hochul first released a plan on Saturday to address the staffing shortages.

She has directed a 24/7 operations center led by the New York State Department of Health to monitor staffing operations and trends, provide guidance to healthcare facilities.

She also said if needed, she can activate medically trained members of the National Guard to fill gaps, and she plans to designate a state of emergency, which would mean healthcare workers from other states and other countries can work in New York.

"My heart breaks for the nurses and the other individuals who’ve done the right thing who now know because people, not everyone was being persuaded to do the right thing, that they have to work harder and they’re going to have more sacrifices it’s fundamentally unfair and we’re going to have to bring in people to help at all levels no doubt about it," Gov. Hochul said.

Even though the mandate went into effect early Tuesday morning, hospitals are still feeling the effects of the shortages.

As of Tuesday morning, nearly 67% of people in Monroe County have received at least one dose of the shot.

More than 463,000 people, or 62.5% are fully vaccinated.

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello said he believes Hochul’s mandate is playing a role in increasing the vaccination rate.

"A lot more people came in over the weekend, getting towards that deadline really educating themselves… and really understanding the benefits it is to them the community the patients that they serve and community-wide we’ve seen actually a relatively large increase week over a week over the last couple of weeks of vaccinations this community is really doing its work right now," Bello said.

Nurses say they’re already seeing more than a dozen patients being assigned to one nurse when they should only be juggling six at maximum.

They say now that this vaccine mandate is in effect, it highlights a bigger problem and they’re worried about being overwhelmed by the workload.

News10NBC caught up with several nurses about this mandate and says their worry is being able to provide adequate services to those who come in needing help.

Some said that this major shift in health care isn’t going to go away overnight and the community will have to change their expectations when walking through hospital doors.

"It’s going to come to the point where people are going to come to the hospital and they’re going to sit in the emergency department for days, there just aren’t enough people," said Cimmaron Norton, a registered nurse at Rochester General Hospital.

"I think we’re in for a rude awakening and this is going to collapse our health care system, and I guess I’ll have to leave New York if it goes through," said Nicole Ariano, a respiratory therapist at Rochester General Hospital.

Local hospital systems are getting closer to a 100% vaccination rate. UR Medicine is at 97.5% of clinical employees and Rochester Regional Health is nearing 99%.