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 employees at the Lutheran Home and Rehabilitation Center as well as the Hultquist Place Assisted Living Program over the next 3-4 weeks. The 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 as well.
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. As you’ve undoubtedly noticed, vaccine acceptance has become a political and social point of contention. Misinformation about the vaccine seems to spread even faster than the virus itself, causing many to disregard the benefits the vaccines offer in pursuit of self-interest. Now, healthcare employees are choosing to resign, some leaving healthcare entirely, to pursue other careers instead of accept a COVID-19 vaccine out of fears rooted in that same misinformation I mentioned prior. I’m sad to say that this causing an even greater healthcare staffing issue in our county than what we had already been enduring the last 18 months. We’ve been in contact with leaders from other facilities and are working together to find a staffing solution.
However, due to this critical staffing shortage, we’ve paused all admissions to LHRC effective immediately. Although other skilled nursing facilities in the area had already made this decision before us, we held out as long as we could because we know the value and importance our skilled nursing and rehabilitation services have to the community around us and to you.
If you or a loved one go through the elective surgery process at a nearby healthcare facility or receive emergent care with physical rehabilitation recommended as part of your discharge plans, you will be referred to another rehabilitation facility instead of LHRC for the foreseeable future. Our first priority has to be the residents we’re currently serving in the nursing home with the employees who remain after the mandatory vaccine deadline. Eventually as our staffing levels increase to allow us to provide the safe, high-quality care we’re known for, we will begin accepting new admissions again. You will be notified of the reversal when that decision is made in the future.
We continue to do everything we can to attract and retain new talent to replace those we will lose, but the world around us is not making it any easier. Please know that this decision is not a negative reflection of our organization or the staff who choose to leave. Everyone is entitled to make healthcare decisions that are right for them, but we stand by our beliefs that the COVID-19 vaccines are our best chance to reduce infection rates and reduce or eliminate the severity of symptoms when breakthrough infections arise.
We thank you for your patience and for trusting that this decision, though difficult to make, is the right one for the time being. If you have more questions, you can call me directly at 716-665-8128 and I will do my best to help you with what I know right now.
President and CEO