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State Sen. Borrello Calls For Testing Option For Health Care Workers

State Sen. George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay, speaks on the Senate floor on Monday.

State Sen. George Borrello has called on Gov. Kathy Hochul and Dr. Howard Zucker, New York’s Department of Health commissioner, asking them to allow unvaccinated health care workers the option to submit to regular testing in lieu of having to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.

Borrello, R-Sunset Bay, sent Hochul and Zucker the following letter:

“Dear Governor Hochul and Commissioner Zucker:

“I am writing to alert you to an imminent threat to our rural health care system that could compromise health care availability in our region unless action is taken swiftly.

“The threat I am referring to is the Department of Health’s vaccine mandate for health care workers, which has the potential to leave our hospitals, nursing homes and health care facilities without the staffing levels they require to safely operate.

“While I support vaccination as the best defense against the virus, I also believe that the decision to take a vaccine should be a personal choice. That view is shared by many of my constituents who work in health care and who are unvaccinated by choice for either medical, religious or personal reasons. They are upset at the vaccination mandate facing them and most are vowing they will leave their jobs rather than comply.

“The practical implications of this impending exodus of health care workers are dire and have the potential to severely impair the ability of hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living facilities to operate at full capacity. This is particularly concerning because the health care sector has already been experiencing significant staffing shortages for several years. They lack any kind of a staffing ‘cushion’ that could mitigate the impact of mandate-driven staff departures.

“We are seeing the impacts play out already in some facilities. The WCA, an assisted living facility in Fredonia, has had to begin preparing discharge plans for half of their residents because one-third of its staff have given notice that they will end their employment on October 7 because of the vaccine mandate…”

He continued: “Our region, already a federally designated Medically Underserved Area (MUA), has a severe shortage of health care and skilled nursing facilities. Simply put, we cannot afford to lose any of our already-scarce health care capacity because of a vaccine mandate.

“I’m calling on the NYS Department of Health to help avoid an unprecedented health care crisis in my rural district by offering employers a testing alternative for unvaccinated workers.

“Thank you for your time and consideration of this urgent request.”

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