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Hochul says hospitals should seek state's aid to staff urgent care centers

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Governor Hochul's office
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Gov. Kathy Hochul says she believes the mandatory COVID-19 vaccine policy for health care workers is largely a success, even though some hospitals around the state  have had to shut down some urgent care centers due to a staffing shortage.

A number of hospital chains in New York have temporarily closed or limited services at their urgent care centers, citing an ongoing staffing shortage made worse by the governor’s Sept. 27 mandate that all hospital employees get vaccinated or lose their jobs.

Hochul says the state has identified student nurses and retired health care professionals to be on stand-by to help ease the crunch, but she says the hospitals have not asked for help to keep the centers open.

“We’re waiting to hear from them. You have a problem you know how to reach us,” says Hochul, who added that health department officials have been in conversation with the hospitals.

“It’s not going to be perfect,” Hochul says. “I said that Day One.”

The governor says all of the state’s hospitals are required to have an emergency staffing plan in place to make up for shortages, and she questioned whether the hospitals were deploying those plans.

Overall, the governor says the vaccine mandate is working, with at least 92% of the hospital workers receiving at least one dose of the vaccine. And she says patients have the right to expect that the health care professionals who treat them are vaccinated against the virus.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of public radio stations in New York state. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.