Lewis County General Hospital will stop delivering newborns after Sept. 24. This is because too many maternity unit workers stepped down over a COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Six maternity ward employees resigned instead of having a compulsory immunization. A further seven colleagues remain undecided.

“We are unable to safely staff the service after Sept. 24,” Lewis County Health System Chief Executive Officer Gerald Cayer said according to WWNY-TV. “The number of resignations received leaves us [with] no choice but to pause delivering babies at Lewis County General Hospital.

Cayer hopes the pause will only be temporary, and vowed to work with the New York Department of Health to keep the unit running.

“It is my hope that the (state) Department of Health will work with us in pausing the service rather than closing the maternity department,” he said according to the broadcaster. “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.”

The Empire State previously declared all health care workers in hospitals and long-term care facilities must have their first dose before Sept. 27.

Since the vaccine mandate was announced last month 30 employees have resigned. Most had worked in nursing, therapy, technical, and other clinical positions. Thirty others had already received at least one vaccine dose, according to the Watertown Daily Times.

Although 464 hospital workers have been vaccinated 165 are yet to receive the jab.

“Essential health services are not at risk because of the mandate,” Cayer said according to the paper. “The mandate ensures we will have a healthy workforce, and we are not responsible for [causing COVID-19] transmission in or out of our facilities.”

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