The Lewis County General Hospital in upstate New York has suspended all baby delivery services. The hospital was forced to take this step after six maternity workers resigned because they would not take COVID-19 vaccination, and seven others are equally considering resigning.

Since August 23 when the state government-mandated vaccination for medical employees, 30 healthcare workers have resigned from the hospital, Lewis County Health System CEO Gerald R. Cayer said. He said maternity services at the hospital will be suspended from September 24 so that the management can employ more nurses, technicians, and therapists to manage the maternity unit.

“We are unable to safely staff the service after September 24,” Cayer said. “If we can pause the service and now focus on recruiting nurses who are vaccinated, we will be able to reengage in delivering babies here in Lewis County. We have the challenge to work through with the vaccination mandate.”

Cayer disclosed that 464 medical employees at Lewis County General Hospital have been vaccinated, but 165 remain unvaccinated – meaning that 27% of the hospital workers are not vaccinated. Out of the 25,916 people in Lewis County, 2,626 have been infected with COVID-19 and 31 deaths have been recorded. This means that 46% of the county population is partially or fully vaccinated; but then, the national average is 63%.

New York mandates all healthcare workers to get COVID-19 vaccination, and hospital workers as well as long-term care facility employees must get vaccinated before September 27. Initially, some healthcare workers may be exempted from the mandate based on religious beliefs, but this exemption has been removed and everyone must get the shots.

Cayer said his hospital will not wind down services or shut down, but they would rather recruit more staff and restrategize to work around the current problem. He said his hospital is just not “LCHS-centric” but will survive the current challenges and that the public should show understanding.