NY National Guard Deployed to State Nursing Homes to Ease Staff Shortages

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The New York National Guard has announced guard member deployments to assist certain long-term care facilities throughout the state in an effort to ease staffing shortages amid a seasonal rise in COVID-19 cases.

A Wednesday statement from the National Guard said 120 Army medics and Air Force medical technicians were deployed to 12 nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

“The nursing facilities are located from Long Island to Buffalo and north to the Canadian border,” the National Guard’s statement said.

Service members were being sent to facilities in Goshen, Syracuse, Rochester, Albany, Buffalo, Utica, Plattsburgh, Uniondale, Liberty, Vestal, Olean, and Lyons.

“In selecting Soldiers and Airmen for the mission, New York National Guard planners looked for trained medics or medical technicians who were not also working in the health care field in their civilian life,” Brig. Gen. Isabel Rivera Smith, the director of joint operations for the New York National Guard, said in the statement.

“It makes no sense to take a young woman who is an Air Force med-tech and works at a hospital out of that job, only to place her in another health care facility.”

One hospital, Kaleida Health, said in a statement this week that it fired 100 unvaccinated staff members who were previously given a religious exemption to Gov. Kathy Hochul’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

In early October, New York State’s largest health-care provider, Northwell Health, fired 1,400 employees who refused to get COVID-19 vaccinations, according to a spokesman, Joe Kemp.

Earlier this year, thousands of New York-based health-care workers were placed on unpaid leave following the implementation of Hochul’s vaccine mandate imposed in August.

A federal judge ruled in October that New York health-care staff can refuse the vaccine after the state failed to adequately explain why workers were denied religious exemptions to a vaccine mandate imposed.

However, a  U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit then upheld New York’s vaccine mandate for health-care workers.

In late September, Hochul signed an executive order to address potential health-care staffing shortages as a result of her vaccine mandate for health-care workers.

The governor’s office said the executive order “significantly expands the eligible healthcare workforce and allows additional health-care workers to administer COVID-19 testing and vaccinations.”

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