NEW YORK - Thousands of workers tasked with the complicated care of some of New York’s most vulnerable could be out of a job Friday as the second phase of Gov. Kathy Hochul's vaccine mandate takes effect.
Some 250,000 home healthcare workers had until Midnight to provide proof of at least one dose of the COVID shot or face the threat of unemployment.
"This burden of this mandate to get everyone vaccinated by today is unrealistic," said Joe Pecora, Vice President, Home Healthcare Workers of America.
The union represents some 32,000 home health aides across the state, 90% of which are women of color.
"We’re only at 80% vaccination rate and every percentage under 100 means that thousands of New Yorkers will go without our services," said Pecora.
The mandate applies to everyone working in adult care facilities, home health agencies, long-term home health care programs and hospice care.
An industry that is already suffering from a massive worker deficit.
"To be clear, I’m vaccinated. We’re encouraging our members to be vaccinated, we just need more time," said Pecora.
Gov. Hochul has already declared a state of emergency in health care staffing which allows her to deploy the National Guard and allow student nurses and out-of-state workers to temporarily fill staffing gaps, if needed.
"You have to be specially trained to provide these services," said Al Cardillo, President, NY Home Care Association. "Just the nurse's assessment alone takes three hours to do in the home, and it takes special courses of certification in order to be able to do it," said Cardillo.
A recent poll by the union found that more than 10,000 of their home health aides say they will voluntarily resign instead of getting the shot as well as 894 nurses and 1,000 other critical agency workers.
"We’re talking about a policy that creates a cliff, it creates a cliff that if you’re not vaccinated you’re going to be terminated, but what is the impact on the individuals the next day, the next hour on these services?" said Cardillo.