Arnot Health: ICU at 100% capacity; approx. 80 unvaccinated employees laid off/resigned

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ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – Approximately 80 unvaccinated Arnot Health employees who did not meet the New York COVID-19 vaccine mandate were either laid off or voluntarily resigned.

According to Arnot Health, about 97 percent of their employees have received at least one dose of the vaccine and, as of last Friday, 84 percent are “fully vaccinated.” The number of fully vaccinated employees will expand as employees receive their second Pfizer or Moderna shots.

Approximately 85 Arnot Health employees remain unvaccinated after receiving an approved exemption or accommodation. Those employees are tested twice a week for COVID-19 to remain in compliance with Governor Hochul’s healthcare worker vaccine mandate.

The hospital says they are assessing their staffing at least twice a day “and are confident in our ability to provide high-quality, safe care even as we contend with the current surge in COVID-19 patients.”

Arnot Health also tells 18 News that their ICU is currently at 100% of its overall patient capacity after receiving their eighth COVID-19 patient on Wednesday. COVID-19 patients have comprised of about 75 percent of Arnot’s ICU capacity during the pandemic.

The hospital says they have a surge plan available should they need to expand their number of COVID-19 beds.

The volume of patients requiring evaluation, admission, and critical care with COVID-19 has increased steadily over the last month or more.  At the same time, Arnot, like most other regional hospitals, is seeing an increase in health needs for non-COVID-related illnesses.  This combination is straining the resources of all the hospitals in our region.  Over the last few weeks Arnot has been near, at, or above full capacity, but the situation is very fluid, with more than 10% of our patients being discharged and admitted each day.  

Arnot’s COVID-19 hotline is receiving more than 500 calls a day, according to the hospital.

In September, Arnot temporarily paused “non-emergent, elective procedures requiring an overnight stay” in preparation for losing staff due to the vaccine mandate.

18 News has also reached out to Guthrie for information on their ICU capacity and staffing numbers following the vaccine mandate, but have not heard back at this time. At the time of the vaccine mandate deadline, Guthrie reported nearly 97 percent of its staff and 100 percent of all physicians have received the COVID-19 vaccine

New York Governor Kathy Hochul recently expanded the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for health care workers to include staff at certain facilities offering health care to individuals served by the Office of Mental Health (OMH) and the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD).

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