Local hospitals await guidelines for state vaccination order

Published: Aug. 17, 2021 at 5:13 PM EDT
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LOWVILLE, New York (WWNY) - State health care workers received some big news on Monday: all of them have to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of September. But will there be pushback from those who have decided not to?

66-percent of health care workers at Lewis County Health System are fully vaccinated, but an order from the State Department of Health, announced by Governor Cuomo on Monday, will require that number to change.

“With the recent positivity surge across the country and in New York state and here in the north country, I think it was just a matter of time,” said Lewis County Health System CEO Jerry Cayer.

The governor announced that staff at all hospitals and long-term care facilities will need to be vaccinated by September 27, with a few exceptions for medical and religious reasons.

Cayer anticipates pushback from those who haven’t gotten the shot, but he said those are conversations that need to be had.

“We have to respect that and allow that to happen,” Cayer said. “You know, people need to get it off their chest if you will, then we will provide material.”

Material that Cayer is still waiting on from the State Department of Health.

Leslie DiStefano at Samaritan Medical Center said that guidance is key in this process.

“I think that’s what we all want to know,” DiStefano said. “What are the details? What does it really entail? I think until we know that, it’s hard to communicate all those intricacies with our staff members.”

The hospital finds itself with 82-percent of its staff vaccinated, and DiStefano said when the guidance does come, they will work with staff on what is being asked.

“We’ll continue to educate them on what we need to do, so we can obviously fulfill the mandate, but then educate our staff and really work with them on their choices,” she said.

Both Cayer and DiStefano hope to have some of those guidelines by the end of the week.

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