He says a compromise is possible, essentially giving home health aides more time to get their vaccines while still providing care. (AP) Home health aides who refuse to get vaccinated against COVID-19 are banned from working with patients in New York starting Friday under a new state mandate that an industry group warned could cause thousands of caregivers to lose their jobs. The mandate, launched by the governor. Kathy Hochul, also applies to workers in assisted living homes, hospice care, treatment centers and home care programs for AIDS.
It joins another mandate, implemented last month, that covered hospital and nursing home workers. State Immunization Mandate Says Healthcare Employers Can Fire Unvaccinated Workers When It's Impossible to Prevent Them from Exposing Patients or Colleagues. About 86% of the 244,750 home health aides providing direct care in New York have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to self-reported data by the state Department of Health provided to The Associated Press on Friday. Of these helpers, 71.3% are fully vaccinated.
Joe Pecora, vice president of Home Healthcare Workers of America, recently estimated that nearly 70% of the group's 32,000 members had received the COVID-19 vaccine. Early Friday morning, it was unclear whether home health agencies needed to suspend or lay off large numbers of workers. Hospitals across the state had to fire employees who refused to receive vaccines, but a last-minute rush from workers reluctant to get vaccinated prevented large-scale staff shortages. The New York State Home Care Association is urging home health agencies to notify the state Department of Health of any emergency capacity issues due to the mandate.
The health department did not immediately provide data on vaccination rates or staff shortages for home care agencies. As of Friday, 97% of staff at the nonprofit New York Visiting Nurse Service were vaccinated or received an exemption, according to spokeswoman Caren Browning. Home Care Agency Has 8,800 Home Health Aides and Served 75,000 Patients Last Year. Browning said it was “one of the few homecare agencies that established a vaccination clinic to vaccinate staff and community members.
Representatives from major home care associations have met with Hochul and state health department officials to pressure the state to phase in vaccinations and provide emergency funding for home care providers. New York State Homecare Association President and CEO Al Cardillo warned that foreign and out-of-state workers alone will not be able to fill the gaps. Judicial challenges aimed at revoking injunctions have so far failed, including a judgment Friday by a state judge in Albany who lifted a temporary restraining order that had been in place and denied a preliminary injunction against a warrant. But a federal judge has temporarily allowed health workers to request a religious exemption from vaccination while legal fights unfold.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, home health aides have been on the front lines of the crisis, providing direct care to thousands of New Yorkers. It would be difficult to repeat the partnership with Rite Aid now, as pharmacies are so busy vaccinating the general public, said Stephanie Kulak, corporate clinical director of Preferred home health care %26 Nursing Services Inc. Workers signed up on the Rite Aid website and the company administered doses at home care employers' offices over a four-week period, said Nancy Fitterer, president and CEO of the Home Care %26 Hospice Association of New Jersey. Brandon agreed, “The way I choose to care for my mother is going to be a higher standard of care.
Court challenges aimed at overturning injunctions have so far failed, but a federal judge has temporarily allowed health workers to request a religious exemption from vaccination while legal fights unfold. At the same time, an estimated 10,500 home health aides and personal care aides, as well as hundreds of support and administration staff, will leave their jobs. The Erie County Medical Center Corporation in Buffalo anticipates that approximately 10% of its workforce (about 400 workers) may not be vaccinated by Monday, according to AP, and is prepared to suspend elective inpatient surgeries, reduce hours at outpatient clinics and leave temporarily to accept transfers to the ICU. And 81% of staff at all adult care facilities and 77% of nursing home staff were fully vaccinated as of Thursday.
Michael Apostolakos, its medical director, said intensive care and many critical services will continue without interruption, but staff shortages unrelated to the mandate are causing a pause in some services. President Joe Biden said last month that nursing homes must require their staff to be vaccinated, or they risk losing their Medicaid and Medicare funds. Hochul and his administration have reported an increase in vaccination rates among health workers in the last month before the deadline went into effect this week. Federal government and states haven't made the extra effort needed to reach these workers, say homecare employers.
Earlier this month, the state House of Representatives passed a bill that would allow home health workers to administer any vaccine used to reduce the spread of infectious diseases. . .