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Hochul says state government will help hospitals plug staffing holes because of vaccine mandate

Governor says it's likely state government will need to supplement pay of out-of-state workers brought in.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — As midnight approaches, Governor Kathy Hochul says she will be monitoring communication from hospitals across the state to see what the initial impact will be of her vaccination mandate for healthcare workers.

Unless a worker is granted a medical exemption, by midnight they must have at least one dose of a COVID vaccine or face possible firing. (At least temporarily, there is also a religious exemption being honored as two court challenges to Hochul’s mandate play out.)

At a news conference in the Bronx on Monday, Hochul stood firm on her mandate, “I’m hopeful I don’t have to do this. I don’t have to do this if people will get vaccinated. There’s plenty of hours left in the day, but I also know that I need to be prepared.”

The Governor was asked if her administration had a working estimate on how many healthcare workers may be sidelined by the mandate. Hochul did not disclose a number, saying she would be watching incoming data and the clock, “It’s an evolving situation. I’m not going to be able to give you the answers I’d like to give you until we know exactly what happens tonight.”

Hochul has also pledged state help in finding replacement workers.

Here’s the situation at the biggest hospitals and hospital systems in Western New York.

Over the weekend, Catholic Health reported 90% of its workers fully vaccinated. But on Monday, the hospital system put out a statement saying it has reach 100% compliance with the mandate “between staff who have been vaccinated, applied for religious exemptions, received medical exemptions or deferrals or been put on 30-day unpaid leaves of absence.”

Catholic Health had previously announced unvaccinated personnel would be placed on leave. The Monday statement is unclear how many of its workers fall into that category.

ECMC estimates it may lose 400 workers after getting 90% of its staff fully vaccinated.

Kaleida has not offered any details on the personnel loses it may face, but noted 94% of its workers were fully vaccinated at of 6 p.m. Sunday.