LOWVILLE — After giving birth to three sons in the Lewis County Health System maternity department — the last in late 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic was ramping up — Caitlyn P. Lee felt “devastating shock” when she learned that department services would be paused due to a lack of vaccinated staff just as she and her husband were talking about having one more child.

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“I had more stress with my last pregnancy because it was somewhere new,” she said. “It was like being pregnant for the first time again … (when) you can’t know what to expect. By the fourth time you would expect that it would be old hat, but everything changed because I had to pick up and start that process all over again somewhere else.”

Lewis looking far to reinstate maternity unit

Occupational therapist Caitlyn P. Lee, right, and her family. Family photo

Lewis looking far to reinstate maternity unit

In September 2021, Lewis County Health System CEO Gerald R. Cayer, left, made international news when the Lowville facility was the first hospital to be forced to stop providing services due to staffing problems related to COVID-19 vaccine mandates. Julie Abbass/Watertown Daily Times

Lewis looking far to reinstate maternity unit

This banner is similar to what will be featured on recruiting billboards soon to be unveiled in Queens and Buffalo as part of the ongoing effort to hire at least one OB-GYN doctor and maternity nurses so that Lewis County Health System can “un-pause” the maternity department temporarily disabled during the pandemic. Provided image

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