Local leaders back Gov. Hochul’s plan to address healthcare staffing shortage due to vaccine mandate

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Local leaders say they are on board with New York Gov. Kathy Hochul’s plan to address the staffing shortages in hospitals and other health care facilities across the state due to the vaccine mandate.

The state is requiring healthcare workers to have at least their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by Sept. 27, employees who refuse will be forced to resign.

The plan, released on Saturday could declare a State of Emergency that seeks to increase workforce supply and allow qualified health care professionals licensed in other states or countries, recent graduates, retired and formerly practicing health care professionals to practice in New York State.

Other options include deployment of medically-trained National Guard members, and partnering with the federal government to deploy Disaster Medical Assistance Teams (DMATs) to assist local health and medical systems.

Locally, News10NBC spoke to both Rep. Joe Morelle and Monroe County Executive Adam Bello about the plan, and how they are responding.

"Will adjustments have to be made? Of course, but we’ve been making and preparing for those adjustments and contingency plans have been put in place for when the mandate goes into effect,” Bello said.

In addition to grads, Hochul also plans to work with the federal government and other state officials to explore ways to expedite visa requests for medical professionals.

Morelle said he believes Hochul will be "measured" in her approach, and with the use of the National Guard. He added the need is for guard members who are trained "appropriately."

"I support the governor I’m going to continue to do everything I can to support her," Morelle said. "I think the mandates are essential, I don’t think patients and their family members should have to worry about going into a health care setting and the health care worker might not be vaccinated or might have COVID"

Hochul said she is monitoring the situation "closely" and say having the plan to increase the workforce will help alleviate any burdens on hospitals and healthcare facilities.

"I had a conversation with the health care systems here and there is still a lot of employees that are still getting vaccinated this weekend," Bello said. "We have two of the best health care systems in the country right here in Rochester and I’m confident in their ability to continue to provide care."

The Department of Labor says workers who are terminated because of refusal to be vaccinated are not eligible for unemployment insurance unless they have a valid doctor-approved request for medical accommodation.