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COVID-19 surge putting an added strain on nursing home facilities across the region

79% staff vaccinated nationwide at nursing homes
elderly, old man, walker, senior citizens
Posted at 3:10 PM, Jan 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-04 23:19:42-05

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - The recent COVID-19 surge is putting an added strain on nursing home facilities across the region.

News 3 previously investigated unvaccinated staff at nursing homes back in September.

More residents and staff at nursing homes are vaccinated than ever before, but still, some are seeing breakthrough COVID cases.

Trio HealthCare Senior Vice President Alan Cosby said the recent surge has added stress.

They company runs nine facilities across the state of Virginia and some in Ohio.

They have locations in Hampton Roads, including Bayside of Poquoson Health and Rehab and Portsmouth Health and Rehab.

They say they’ve seen an increase in staff and residents testing positive for COVID-19.

“One case of COVID is too many. The good news is that the cases have been much more mild, and in a lot of cases, they've been asymptomatic,” said Cosby.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid said they created the first-ever national nursing home surveillance system for COVID-19 information. You can find it here.

A map showing the entire country has green dots for facilities that have 75% or more of their staff vaccinated. Any facility with 75% or lower of staff vaccinations gets an orange dot.

To look up the report card on a facility, click "Visual Data" and search an area or name of place to find out the number of COVID cases, deaths, percentage of staff fully vaccinated and more.

According to the report, Bayside of Poquoson Health and Rehab has 100% of staff vaccinated.

“We pushed very hard to educate them [staff]. I had meetings with our medical directors to answer any questions that they might have and just to let them know that we're doing this to protect our residents, but also protect them,” said Cosby.

The CMS reports that the national average of vaccinated staff is 79%, but some facilities are still below the national average, like Autumn Care of Norfolk, which has about 57% of its staff vaccinated, according to the federal report.

But several organizations, like Trio Healthcare, made it mandatory and said if you want to work there, you're required to have a vaccine.

They said they lost about 40 employees who did not want the vaccine, which was about 4% of their entire workforce.

“We were able to successfully require that 100% of our employees were vaccinated,” said Cosby “We stand by that decision.”

According to a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services spokesperson:

"In April 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) instituted an unprecedented requirement that Medicare-certified nursing homes report to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) COVID-19 testing, case, and mortality data for residents and staff. Nursing homes were also required to report additional information related to staffing and supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE). The NHSN is the nation’s most widely used healthcare-associated infection tracking system. As a result of this requirement and our partnership with the CDC, we were able to deliver the first-ever standardized national surveillance system for COVID-19 for nursing homes.

CMS uses data from the NHSN to compile top trends in nursing homes related to COVID-19 and help inform future action and provide the public access to this data. This includes, but is not limited to, the number of nursing home residents and staff who have tested positive for COVID-19, vaccination rates among staff and residents, and a breakdown of trends across states. With the implementation of this requirement, for the first time, all 15,300 Medicare-certified nursing homes were reporting this data directly to the CDC’s reporting tool. In June 2020, we took swift action to publicly post this information on our COVID-19 Nursing Home Data [data.cms.gov] website so all Americans could have access to accurate and timely information on COVID-19 in nursing homes.

Separately, CMS’ maintains the Care Compare website, which is aimed at providing consumers with a wide variety of information about nursing homes in a user-friendly format, such as inspection results, staffing information, quality measures, and star ratings. This website allows consumers to identify nursing homes within a certain proximity from their home (or other location), and allows consumers to compare the level or quality between homes. In September of 2021, CMS also announced a newly added feature on Medicare.gov (Nursing Home Care Compare) that made it easier to check COVID-19 vaccination rates for nursing home staff and residents. Residents, families, and consumers can now easily identify the percent of residents and staff vaccinated in a nursing home, and compare those rates to other nursing homes, or to state and national averages.

Furthermore, in December 2021, on the COVID-19 Nursing Home Data website, CMS began posting the percent of fully vaccinated residents and staff that received a booster dose for each nursing home (see file through link under second bullet). CMS is planning to include this information on the Care Compare website in early 2022.

The Care Compare website and COVID-19 Nursing Home Data website are great resources for nursing home residents, their families and consumers. These resources help them learn about the quality of a nursing home they, or a loved one resides in, and helps consumers choose a nursing home based on their individual needs. CMS also encourages consumers to seek other sources for information, such as contacting their physician or a specific nursing home, and asking them questions about information that is important to their care."

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