Impact of state vaccine mandate for health workers being felt
Kenneth C. Crowe II is reporting for the Times Union Rensselaer County chief medical examiner, Dr. Michael Sikirica, [sih-KEER-ih-kah], has refused to get vaccinated for COVID-19, forcing the county to send bodies for autopsies to Glens Falls Hospital instead of Albany Medical Center Hospital, county officials confirmed October 1. The autopsies Sikirica does are typically done at the Albany facility, which requires vaccinations for its employees and for anyone working there. “Dr. Sikirica is not employed by Albany Med, but consistent with our policy, physicians who do provide services on our campus must be vaccinated,” said Matt Markham, vice president for communications for the hospital. When asked to comment on why he has not been vaccinated, Sikirica referred questions to Richard Crist, the county director of operations. Crist said Sikirica is still performing autopsies, but not in Albany. As a result, officials, police officers and prosecutors must now travel roughly 50 miles to Glens Falls. Rensselaer County District Attorney Mary Pat Donnelly said the relocation of the autopsies is another unexpected outcome of the pandemic."It's certainly inconvenient for us. We'll make it work," she said. Crist said there could be a ripple effect across the Capital Region because Sikirica works for seven counties. “This is a regional issue,” he said. Kate Lisa is reporting for Johnson Newspaper Corp. roughly 98 percent of the staff at Columbia Memorial Health staffers have now received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, a massive increase from the lower full vaccination rate reported by the state Health Department last week. Hospital, nursing home and adult-care facility employees in New York state were required to receive their first vaccine by midnight September 28. As of October 1, 1,645 of the total 1,683 health staff at the hospital in Hudson, have received at least one dose of an approved COVID vaccine, CMH spokesman Bill Van Slyke said. It was unclear if the 38 unvaccinated CMH health workers would be placed on leave for a period of time or terminated. “The hospital has taken whatever actions are necessary in order to be compliant with the state order,” Van Slyke said. Melanie Lekocevic is reporting for Columbia-Greene Media Greene County Public Health may have to terminate up to four of its 33 employees if they are not vaccinated against COVID-19 by October 7. Four employees, including clinicians and support staff, had not received their first dose of the vaccination as of October 1. “Those employees are being notified that this is where we stand,” Greene County Legislature Chair Patrick Linger said. “They will go on an unpaid suspension for probably a week and if they are not vaccinated at that point, we will have no option but to terminate them.” Linger said he does not know why the four unvaccinated employees have failed to comply. The county Legislature on September 27 submitted a letter to Gov. Kathy Hochul asking the vaccine mandate for frontline workers be delayed, saying the system is at capacity.