During his final days in office, former NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that all healthcare workers in hospitals and other congregate care settings like ours are mandated to receive a Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine. The first round of vaccines need to be distributed to our nursing home staff by September 27, 2021. The Hultquist Place Assisted Living Program, Lutheran Senior Housing staff, corporate office personnel, as well as everyone at G.A. Family Services will have separate compliance dates in the coming weeks.
Similar to the state’s direction, this is also being enforced at the federal level. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that all nursing homes receiving Medicare and Medicaid funds are required to vaccinate their employees in nearly the same timeframe.
This decision was made to help prepare and protect essential healthcare workers as well as the most vulnerable populations across the state from the Delta variant of COVID-19 that continues to spread faster than the previous strain. Last year, back-to-school season and the holiday season were when the COVID-19 infections went up rapidly, crippling many healthcare facilities across the country and keeping lockdowns enforced for longer than anticipated.
The hope is that more vaccine distribution will drastically reduce the infection rate this fall/winter and reduce or eliminate the severity of symptoms when breakthrough infections arise. However, this is going to have some workforce implications for us and will also bring about some changes for visitation, one in particular that you need to be made aware of beginning this week.
Some of our employees are electing to leave their healthcare career behind rather than receive the COVID-19 vaccine. That is certainly their right, but we want you to know that our remaining staff will be covering those positions temporarily until we have new hires to take their place. This is not a problem unique to us. The entire healthcare industry nationally and locally has already been struggling with a workforce shortage. You can see it in the classified section of your favorite newspaper. Now hospitals and other congregate care settings are going to feel it even more with these new vaccine mandates given the geo-political climate surrounding the vaccine’s creation and availability.
We ask for your patience and cooperation as we navigate this issue. Please know that we’re doing everything we can to make sure this does not affect the care our residents receive. We are going out of our way to recruit new staff including offering sign-on bonuses, increased hourly wages, a restructured pay grid, and more.
As mentioned before, these changes are being enforced on a state and federal level to get ahead of the virus in coming months as people begin gathering indoors when the weather cools and the holidays arrive. However, due to the current rising infection rate and elevated positivity rates in our county, we will now require all visitors to wear face masks regardless of vaccination status until further notice. This change is being instituted to protect our residents, staff, and guests from any involuntary spread of COVID-19.
It is our expectation that all infection control practices will be followed in accordance with regulatory guidance. Anyone who repeatedly ignores these requests and intentionally jeopardizes the health and safety of our residents, staff, and guests will be prohibited from visitation. We want to steer clear from any outbreak situations like other neighboring facilities have endured; you can help us do that.
Also, as always we recommend the COVID-19 vaccine and mask use when you’re out in the general public as the best ways to reduce or eliminate opportunities to spread respiratory illness. This is important as Influenza season meets with COVID-19 once again. Our COVID-19 preparedness page on our website has a really handy tool for finding vaccine locations if you do not already have one identified.
Thank you for your patience and please remember… the entire world is experience a staffing shortage, but the ones who show up are doing their absolute best for you and your loved ones.
LHRC Residents Tested for COVID-19 See Below*
LHRC Residents Currently Testing Positive for COVID-19 0
Former COVID-19 Positive LHRC Residents Recovered 12
Employees Tested Weekly for COVID-19 (State Mandated) See Below**
LHRC Employees Currently Testing Positive for COVID-19 0
Former COVID-19 Positive LHRC Employees Recovered 34\
*as needed under active, suspected, or investigated COVID-19 outbreak situations, does not count resident or representative declinations.
**only staff who are non-vaccinated or who are not yet fully vaccinated are required to test for COVID-19 weekly.
For COVID-19 status updates on the Lutheran Campus,
call our 24/7 hotline at any time: 716-720-9715
President and CEO