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Hospital’s maternity unit closing Saturday even as more workers get COVID shot

Published: Sep. 24, 2021 at 5:06 PM EDT
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LOWVILLE, New York (WWNY) - Lewis County Health System is going forward with the decision to pause its maternity ward starting Saturday even as the hospital sees a high increase in employees getting vaccinated.

“At this point, 97 percent of the organization is vaccinated,” said Chief Executive Officer Jerry Cayer.

Now only 20 employees remaining unvaccinated. Since the vaccine mandate was put in place, Cayer says 136 employees have come forward and gotten the shot

“I do think our team understands, you know, we have an obligation to create the safest environment we can create and part of that is making sure our employees are safe,” he said.

Despite the new vaccinations, hospital officials say they still plan to pause service in the maternity unit starting Saturday. “We have had 43 resignations; 70 percent of those in clinical areas and, unfortunately, a number of maternity nurses, you know, the professionals who do labor, delivery and postpartum care are part of that group,” said Cayer.

He says service in other departments is no longer in jeopardy of staffing shortages. However, he says a significant number of employees have decided to file for religious exemption - a sticking point that has made its way to federal court.

That leaves the hospital waiting for a decision to be made.

“They’ll be wearing and fitted for appropriate N95 masks. They’ll be swabbed once a week and they will stay in our organization until we get a final ruling from the courts,” said Cayer.

The deadline for that decision is October 12.

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