As mentioned in previous communications, NYS officials announced in August that all healthcare workers in hospitals and other congregate care settings like ours were going to be mandated to receive a Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine with deadlines TBD based on level of care. The deadline for the Hultquist Place Assisted Living Program (HP) is October 7. All HP staff must begin the vaccination process prior to that date if they are not already fully vaccinated or else their employment must be terminated. We already face a staffing challenge and this mandate has made the situation worse for us and many other similar healthcare facilities. We’ve been in contact with leaders from other healthcare facilities as well as the Department of Health and are working together to find a staffing solution.
Unfortunately, we have had two (2) COVID-19 positive staff members recently. Due to this, visitation and activities in HP are suspended until October 7. We are hopeful and are looking forward to returning to our usual routine. Until then, please call 716-720-9610 to set up compassionate care visits. They will be limited to 45 minutes and must be scheduled until further notice.
Although we have had an average vaccine acceptance rate compared to others in our industry, some individuals are choosing to leave our organization (and/or healthcare in general) as a result of the mandate. This is their choice, but it is important for you to know all that the things we’re doing to fill in those gaps, which includes:
- Aggressively interview, hire, and train of new staff
- Moving ancillary staff from other departments to help with non-care related concerns
- Working with BOCES to provide HHA training
- Slowed admissions to assure appropriate coverage
- Scheduling vaccine time slots for those choosing to stay
- Sharing our story and struggles with local media
- Raising wages and boosting overtime or sign-on incentives
We’ve implemented these recruitment and retention strategies (and others) to address our staffing concerns as well as make sure that our quality of care standards continue to be met as they always have. In regards to quality of care as well as safety, we’ve had to make some changes to our visitation or leave of absence policy effective immediately.
Due to rising COVID-19 infection rates and hospitalizations in the county, we must encourage mask use by all guests to the facility regardless of vaccination status to make sure we reduce all of our potential exposure risks. To go along with this, consumption of food and beverages during visits is also not allowed at this time. These are not changes that we want to make; they’re changes we have to make either from an infection control standpoint or as a state Department of Health requirement.
Furthermore, if you choose to take a resident out of the building, please assure they are masking, using hand sanitizer, and practicing social distancing or avoid crowded places. Fully vaccinated people can contract the virus. While vaccination helps reduce the risk of infection or severity of symptoms if breakthrough cases occur, they can still pass it on to others who may not be so lucky. The safety and well-being of the residents remains our focus through all of this.
As we’ve stated many times before, we don’t always have the answers to the questions you come up with but it doesn’t mean that answers do not exist. Our staff will always do the best they can to inform you of what is going on or find the answers you seek, but there are times when information makes it to us at the same time it makes its way to you. We are often trying to process new regulatory information as our phone begins to ring off the hook because people have questions about the same information and what it means for them. We will help you and give you everything we know, when we know it.
We thank you for your patience and for trusting that our decisions, though difficult to make, are the right ones for the time being.
HP Residents Tested for COVID-19 – See Below*
HP Residents Currently Testing Positive for COVID-19 – 0
Former COVID-19 Positive HP Residents Recovered – 16
HP Employees Currently Testing Positive for COVID-19 – 2
Former COVID-19 Positive HP Employees Recovered – 22
*as needed under active, suspected, or investigated COVID-19 outbreak situations, does not count resident or representative declinations.
For COVID-19 status updates on the Lutheran Campus, call our 24/7 hotline at any time: 716-720-9715.
President and CEO