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Local nursing homes respond to federal requirement to vaccinate staff

Nursing homes
Posted at 5:11 PM, Aug 19, 2021

HAMPTON ROADS, Va.— President Joe Biden announced Wednesday that his administration will require nursing home staff be vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition for those facilities to continue receiving federal Medicare and Medicaid funding.

The new mandate from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services could take effect as soon as next month.

Sue Crouse’s stepmother is a patient at Lake Taylor Transitional Care Hospital in Norfolk.

Crouse says the care for her stepmother has been excellent, but she does carry some concern about who exactly is caring for her, saying she has mixed feelings about someone who is unvaccinated caring for her loved one.

“I would hope they would choose [to get vaccinated], but I do think they have a right [to decline] right now while it’s experimental."

The FDA granted emergency-use approval for the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Full FDA approval is expected to be issued in mid- to late-September, according to health officials.

Lake Taylor Transitional Care Hospital says right now, they are just encouraging employees to get vaccinated.

Lake Taylor Transitional Care Hospital President and CEO Thomas J. Orsini tells News 3 the hospital will be implementing a plan once the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services releases guidance.

“Lake Taylor will be implementing a plan once the CMS guidance is released. We currently have approximately 60% of total staff vaccinated, which is comparable to the national average and includes employees without direct patient contact. In the meantime, we will continue to educate and encourage all our employees to get the vaccine and provide accessibility to the vaccine at the hospital.”
Thomas J. Orsini, president & CEO

Federal data last updated August 1 reports that some healthcare facilities in Hampton Roads are hovering around just 30% for vaccinated staff.

Less than 40% of staff at many facilities in Hampton Roads are fully vaccinated. Federal data shows just 32% of staff and residents completed vaccinations at the start of the month at The Citadel Virginia Beach.

Hundreds of thousands of nursing home workers throughout the country are not vaccinated.

Riverside Health System, which operates The Gardens At Warwick Forest in Newport News, says it is already weighing the options of vaccination requirements for all team members.

Our biggest priority continues to be the safety and health of our team, our patients and nursing home residents and our community. As spikes from the Delta variant continue, our leadership team is already weighing the options of vaccination requirements for all team members, which would go beyond the President’s directive. As we finalize our decision, we continue to provide education and access for team members and the community so they can obtain the vaccine, and we strongly encourage all team and community members who have not yet received the vaccine to do so.
Jesse Goodrich, vice president of human resources, Riverside Health System

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