Activists for elderly want more vaccine policies on nursing home staff where turnout is low

Coronavirus

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) – Activists for the elderly and those in nursing homes are demanding more action be done to get staff at nursing homes fully vaccinated after looking at current rates they see as unacceptable.   

Overall, across the nation, 59.3% of nursing home staff are fully vaccinated. While many around the Finger Lakes region have higher rates, others are working with less than 40% of their employees vaccinated.  

As of July 25, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services reports that places like Wesley Gardens, Brook at High Falls, and Hurlbut Care Communities Newark Manor and Latta Road West have been operating with only 29.9-42.6% of their workers fully vaccinated. These stats infuriate those with the Elder Justice Committee of Metro Justice.   

“We find that totally unacceptable,” Committee Co-Chair Mary Delwypych argued. “Because Covid as we all know severely impacts the wellbeing of those in nursing homes. Many people died of Covid that lived in nursing homes.”  

Neither of these facilities responded to News 8 requests for interviews, besides Hurlbut Care Communities telling us over the phone they still follow all CDC (Centers for Disease Control) guidelines. Meanwhile, the Unity Living Center with Rochester Regional also sits at just 64% of employees vaccinated. They told us in a statement, “With or without vaccination we require strict infection prevention measures to mitigate the risk of spread of COVID-19 including masking, social distancing, and testing of staff.”  

“That is not enough,” Delwypych told us. “We know now that vaccination is where the issue is. We would like the nursing homes to take it upon themselves to do the right thing and mandate vaccinations for their staff.”  

Other places with higher rates like Pearl Nursing Center approaching 70% of its staff fully vaccinated and Maplewood Nursing Home totaling 87% also encourage vaccines to be the best option but worry statewide mandates would hurt an industry already stretched thin.  

“Staffing’s a challenge at every place,” Pearl Nursing Home Administrator John Gagnon said. “If we tell 35% of our staff that they can’t work then it’s going to be even more of a challenge. So, we have the masks, we do what we need to do with guidelines in place.”  

“It would be a real stretch for the legislature or the Governor to say everybody has to be vaccinated in healthcare,” Maplewood Nursing Home Administrator Gregory Chambery added. “You wouldn’t have enough people to take care of those who are living in healthcare right now.”  

Despite higher vaccine rates than the national average Maplewood and Pearl both explained anyone coming inside must pass an extensive screening test and always mask up.  

For a full list of vaccine rates and other ratings for all nursing homes in the Finger Lakes region, you can find those outlets by clicking here

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