Low vaccine rates at nursing homes lead to staff shortages and hospital delays

Coronavirus

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Here at the Hurlbut nursing home on East Henrietta Road, only 62% of employees were vaccinated. It was one of eight in our area at or under 70%. This means after the mandate took effect one can only assume they all lost a lot of employees and that worries many families. 

Jean Wells’ mother lives at The Hurlbut nursing home. While she was once worried about the low vaccination rate among staff, she’s now worried that there isn’t enough staff. Fueling that worry she says is a lack of transparency. She says Hurlbut hasn’t told her how many workers took off and how they’re making up for that loss. 

“Maybe some of the other workers are giving up vacation days or working double shifts,” Jean Wells complained. “And you can only do that for so long. It exhausts you, and you want to know that they’re at their best to care for your loved one the best they can.”  

To keep up with essential services for those they already care for, some nursing homes have stopped taking in new residents. But that isn’t good for hospitals. 

Many elderly patients coming out of surgery or treatment don’t have a home or rehab center to go to so they stay at the hospital taking up beds a trend impacting both major local health care systems. 

“On any given day in our Monroe County Hospitals a combined 60-80 patients in this category,” Dr. Rob mayor of Rochester Regional told us. “What we do is continue to care for them and look for options.”  

“It is causing a significant percentage of our beds taken up and therefore making it difficult to get patients into our emergency room,” Dr. Michael Apostolakos with URMC added. “Then into our hospital or accept transfers into our facility.”  

The ultimate solution here is getting nursing homes fully staffed again. But that looks to be a challenge even for places like Maplewood Nursing Home in Webster which only lost a dozen employees. Meaning this issue may last for some time. 

“For direct caregivers and certified nursing assistants, we have 17 openings,” Maplewood Nursing Home Administrator Greg Chambery said. “And it’s been very difficult to backfill those positions that are left unfilled.” 

We reached out numerous times to Hurlbut Care Communities and several other facilities looking for comments on how they plan to adjust services and staffing numbers following the mandate but never heard back. In the meantime doctors with Rochester Regional and URMC assured senior citizens with nowhere to go will remain in their care.  

Elective Procedures are also on pause at area hospitals until further notice as staff stays stretched thin while beds are filled to capacity. Medical leaders all echoed this can die down if people get vaccinated. 

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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