NY hospital to close over 60% of its operating rooms due to staff shortage amid vaccine mandate

Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse will take action Monday to combat the staff shortage following Gov. Kathy Hochul’s Covid vaccine mandate by temporarily shutting down 22 of its 35 operating rooms.

“While Upstate University Hospital continues to ensure the best care for our patients, we are proactively taking temporary measures to focus on COVID cases, as well as safely meet the critical care needs of the community,” the hospital’s statement said

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“Upstate is like many other hospitals across the country—balancing staffing challenges as we see increasing demand for patient care. We appreciate the impact of this on our patients,” the statement continued.

All surgeries will be packed into just thirteen operational surgical suites, and the surgeons will only be operating on “medically necessary, time sensitive or involve critical-care trauma cases.” Elective surgeries, which had already been canceled or postponed, will continue to exist in a holding pattern for the foreseeable future, although the hospital says it hopes to “resume a full surgical schedule as soon as possible.”

Following Gov. Kathy Hochul’s vaccine mandate taking effect, Upstate notified its employees that anyone failing to produce proof of vaccination by Monday evening will be forbidden from coming to work on Tuesday and will most likely have their pay suspended. 

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Dr. Jeffrey Schaffel of Upstate fully supports vaccination for healthcare workers, but he is not a fan of Hochul’s mandate, citing potentially harmful consequences for New York residents. 

“The bottom line is it’s going to hurt people who have been vaccinated, who expect to come to the hospital and have their procedures done, they’re the ones that are being victimized by this decision,” he said.

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“Healthcare personnel continue to be on the front line of the nation’s fight against COVID-19. By providing critical care to those who are or might be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, some healthcare personnel are at increased risk of infection from COVID-19. All healthcare personnel are recommended to get vaccinated against COVID-19,” per Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.

The CDC assures all Americans, not just healthcare workers, that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, and recommends you get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as one is available to you.