ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — We’re one week into the New York State vaccine mandate, so how are hospitals adjusting? UR Thompson Hospital only lost about 3% of its staff when the mandate took effect. That amounts to only 52 vacancies in a staff of more than 1,700, but those vacancies aren’t getting filled quickly.
Among the employees saving lives at Thompson UR Hospital, morale is still high. But staff is under more stressful situations as they’re forced to shift to other departments to meet patient demand, cutting back certain services.
“We have had since then to decrease the number of surgeries and number of operating rooms we went from six to three,” UR Medicine Thompson Hospital President Michael Stapleton said. “And we also eliminated three of the four of our procedure rooms so that we could flex those staff who are confident to work in the ED, ICU for that surge.”
When the mandate was first announced, UR Thompson Hospital President Stapleton complained the window to get employees their first shot was not enough time. His biggest concern now is the number of elderly patients having no nursing homes to be released to.
“We have 17 patients in our hospital right now who are totally stable whom we cannot place into a nursing home,” President Stapleton continued. “And they’re not safe to go home. They stay in that surge and then we end up boarding in our ED which all hospitals are dealing with.”
URMC’s main hospital and Rochester Regional declined to update the statuses of their facilities this week. But Monroe County Health Director Dr. Michael Mendoza, acknowledged things are stretched thin, but emergency services are still prioritized to get done first.
“Things are tight right now but we are getting the work done,” Dr. Mendoza told us. “The acute services like critical care, emergency room services, none of that has been effected. But those individuals are working extra hard.”
UR Thompson Hospital also had to close off its cafeteria to visitors and staff to focus food services to patients. President Stapleton told us in total they have over 288 job openings to fill which are attracting zero applicants in some departments.
There’s currently a court hearing set for next week regarding the state of New York originally not allowing religious exemptions to be applied for. If that case were to be ruled in the state’s favor UR Thompson would be forced to lay off another 73 employees.