Lewis County General Hospital in Lowville, New York, will stop delivering babies temporarily after employees quit following a mandatory vaccine mandate, Axios reported. The county health system’s CEO Gerald Cayer said during a news briefing that out of the hospital’s 165 staffers, 27 percent remain unvaccinated.
“We are unable to safely staff the service after Sept. 24,” Cayer told reporters on Friday, according to the report.
“The number of resignations received leaves us no choice but to pause delivering babies at Lewis County General Hospital.”
“It is my hope that the [New York] Department of Health will work with us in pausing the service rather than closing the maternity department,” he added.
Six employees in the unit resigned, citing that they would rather quit than take the vaccine, while seven other staff members remain undecided about taking the shot, WWNY notes.
The pause, which will officially begin on September 25, will come just two days before the state’s deadline for health care workers to receive the vaccine.
Decisions to shut down maternity units presents a number of challenges, especially for Black expectant mothers who already face racial health disparities across the U.S. Many pregnant Black women depend heavily on medical institutions for a healthy pregnancy and birth.
According to a study conducted by Dove, “Black women are three to four times more likely to die of pregnancy-related causes than white women.” Black women are also more likely to experience pregnancy-related deaths and are prone to a number of heightened risks including fibroids and preeclampsia, “a form of high blood pressure that can lead to severe complications including death if improperly treated”, the National Partnership notes.
This unfortunate truth is often exacerbated by the fact that Black women face a number of financial barriers when it comes to being insured and receiving adequate and competent care from health professionals.
“Only 87 percent of Black women of reproductive age have health insurance and many more experience gaps in coverage during their lives,” the National Partnership adds.