VOYCE shares this statement on vaccine mandates. On August 18, the Biden Administration announced that COVID-19 vaccination would soon be mandated for all employees of skilled nursing facilities that took Medicare and Medicaid or face the prospect of losing funding. VOYCE supports vaccine mandates for long-term care staff to protect residents.
VOYCE believes that this move will offer residents of skilled nursing homes the highest quality care available. As of August 8, 62% of nursing home staff nationwide were vaccinated, with Missouri staff coming in at 48%, according to data reported to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. In fact, there are 22 facilities in the VOYCE territories that have less than 30% of staff vaccinated.
After five months of seeing less than ten resident COVID cases among nursing home residents in VOYCE’s 21 county area weekly, we have seen four straight weeks with over 25 cases, going from an average of 25 cases a month in our area to 137 in one month. There have been eight deaths from July 11 through August 8. There were eight resident COVID deaths from March 7, 2021, to June 27, 2021.
Staff cases saw significant drops after vaccines became available but remained in the double digits most weeks. Since March 7, staff cases nearly double that of resident cases.
While many frame the choice to vaccinate as a personal medical decision, in nursing homes, it becomes clear that each person’s decision impacts the entire facility.
When a resident tests positive, their wing closes temporarily for testing and quarantine- a necessary step to prevent the spread of the virus among vulnerable residents. When a staff member tests positive, in many cases, the entire facility must shut down to visitors again for facility-wide testing and quarantine. And while facilities are supposed to work to find ways for residents and families to connect, the health of many residents makes this impossible.
The toll that social isolation has taken on residents in long-term care cannot be overestimated. The past year and a half have been traumatic for residents, their families, and their caregivers. As a nation, we must do everything we can to make sure families stay reunited and make sure residents have access to the people they choose. VOYCE supports vaccine mandates for long-term care staff to protect residents. If you would like to connect with VOYCE around our statement on vaccine mandates please contact us.