New York nursing homes see the nightly increase in COVID vaccinations for employees thanks to state mandate
Entering this week, Leonardo Vicente was preparing for the worst.
Employees of a New York hospital and nursing home are tasked with receiving at least one COVID-19 vaccine by Monday, September 27 to keep their jobs. But before the deadline, only half of the workers at Highbridge Woodycrest Center, which Vicente runs in the Bronx, did so, at 56%.
Highbridge has a five-star rating from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which tracks the quality of care in nursing homes across the country, and is well-staffed compared to many other facilities in the area. But it was facing a massive exodus of staff under the mandate. Working with nearly half of the staff abroad will be difficult, but Vicente thought he would be able to weather the storm.
“We’ve run this facility 50% during the pandemic,” he said, “because of some illnesses, some people taking care of children at home, sick relatives, and other disasters typical of epidemic life.”
Then something miraculous happened: People who had previously refused to get a bullet came into the office with their vaccination cards. Nine other employees chose to get their first dose at an on-site vaccine clinic introduced this week. In the end, only four of the facility’s 120 employees refused to be vaccinated, and one was granted a medical exemption. By Wednesday, Highbridge’s vaccination rate had risen to nearly perfect, 98.6%.
This scenario has been implemented across New York state, allaying fears that a vaccine mandate would exacerbate existing staffing problems in nursing homes and put their residents at risk. The rate of vaccination with at least one dose among nursing home employees statewide has increased from 84% in the week before the mandate went into effect to 97% as of September 30. Besides mandate, it is likely that access to awareness and education for vaccines have contributed to this rise.
In New York City and surrounding areas, more than a dozen nursing homes reported rates that rose 20 percentage points or more in just five days.
In Manhattan and Staten Island, nursing homes have been able to vaccinate 99% of employees, while other neighborhoods have reached 98%, according to state data. Westchester recorded a similar rise.
State officials confirmed to WNYC/Gothamist that the boosts in vaccine coverage are due to firing rather than staff firing.
State officials emphasized that the boosts in vaccine coverage were due to the firing rather than the firing of employees.
In some individual homes, employee vaccination rates rose within a few days. The Hopkins Center for Rehabilitation and Health Care, a severely understaffed nursing home in Brooklyn, reported that only 61% of its staff had been at least partially vaccinated two days before the mandate. By September 29, that number had risen to 99%. The Plaza Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in the Bronx and the Ocean View Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Queens saw similar gains.
said Richard Molot, executive director of the Long Term Care Community Coalition that advocates on behalf of residents of long-term care facilities in New York State.
In the weeks before the mandate went into effect, industry leaders were sounding the alarm about potential workforce shortages. Some nursing home officials are willing to Patient Admission Ablation She wrote emergency staffing plans so they could manage without vulnerable employees.
The closer we get to mandating a vaccine [deadline]”We were really concerned,” said Stephen Hansey, president and CEO of the New York State Health Facilities Association, which represents nursing homes. “Then it was about educating staff around the clock about the safety and efficacy of vaccines until day 27, and we kept seeing numbers increase.”
However, Hansey noted that in some cases, the loss of even two staff members may have consequences for patient care, depending on who is leaving. “You could have a nursing home with four nurses on the night shift,” he said. Let’s say one or two people choose not to vaccinate, that’s a cut of 25% or 50% of employees. that’s cool. “
Despite the massive increase in vaccination rates in nursing homes in general, rates for some facilities in the city and surrounding areas are still less than 90%. If they continue to stagnate, they could lose a significant portion of their staff next week and beyond.
In Nursing and Rehabilitation in Luxor in Suffolk County, for example, about 12% of employees remain unvaccinated even after the September 27 deadline. It already holds the lowest possible rating for employees from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which ranks homes on the proportions of nurses and aides to the population.
Hansey explained that many nursing home managers have unvaccinated employees who work until deadline because the staff is already so lean. Now that the deadline has passed, instead of firing employees who did not comply, some officials are giving them a 30-day leave of absence without pay in the hope that they will change their mind. Last weekend, Gov. Cathy Hochhol Unemployment insurance benefits canceled For health care workers terminated for non-compliance with the mandate.
Will we see a 100% vaccination rate? Hansey asked. That would be difficult. That’s what we’re striving for, but it’s an individual and personal choice.”