The New York National Guard is being deployed to bolster some long-term care facilities in New York, it confirmed on Dec. 9.
The Guard will deploy some 120 Army medics and Air Force medical technicians to 12 long-term facilities and nursing homes “to ease staffing shortages,” according to a news release from the National Guard. Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, ordered the mission at the start of December and cited what she said is a seasonal rise in COVID-19 cases.
According to the Guard statement, the facilities are located “from Long Island to Buffalo and north to the Canadian border.”
Service members are being sent to facilities in Goshen, Syracuse, Rochester, Albany, Buffalo, Utica, Plattsburgh, Uniondale, Liberty, Vestal, Olean, and Lyons, the Guard confirmed in a statement.
“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,” the statement reads.
“This is how we can help, in the short term, the hospital systems to again turn on that pipeline from hospitals to nursing homes and residents who do not need an acute care bed, who would be better off in a nursing home setting,” said Bello.
Earlier this year, thousands of New York-based health care workers were placed on unpaid leave following the implementation of Hochul’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, which caused staffing disruptions. Neither Hochul nor the Guard has mentioned the mandate amid the deployment.
In October, a federal judge, in an injunction, ruled that New York state 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 in August. Days later, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit upheld New York’s vaccine mandate for health care workers.
Kaleida Health, a hospital in New York state, said in a Dec. 6 statement that it fired 100 unvaccinated staff members who were previously given a religious exemption.
“Combined with the previous vaccine mandate deadline in November, approximately 200 personnel have now been separated from the organization,” the hospital stated.
In addition, Maine Gov. Janet Mills, also a Democrat, said she activated her state’s National Guard to deal with staffing shortages caused by her office’s vaccine mandate for health care staff.
Mills said the order is designed to “help alleviate short-term capacity constraints at hospitals and maintain access to inpatient health care services for Maine people amid a sustained surge of COVID-19.”
Hundreds of workers quit or were fired due to Mills’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, which the Supreme Court declined to block, Maine hospital systems have told news outlets.
Meanwhile, New Hampshire Gov. Christopher Sununu asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Guard to help the state deal with a COVID-19 winter surge.
“They did indicate to us that they’d be sending a few dozen individuals to New Hampshire to help out, with the first 24-person team arriving as early as this weekend,” the governor said on Dec. 8.
Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.