Covid vaccine required for nursing home staff or risk loss of federal funding

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JOHNSTOWN, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Nursing homes are required to have all staff vaccinated or risk losing federal funding.

“I wasn’t really surprised about the announcement. I think we all figured the mandate was going to come at some point,” said Wells Nursing Home Adminstrator Neal Van Slyke.

While the mandate from President Biden didn’t come as a surprise, the risk of losing their Medicaid and Medicare funding was.  

“The troubling thing if we do not meet the regulations is that we could lose that funding which is very important to help us survive operationally,” Van Slyke said.  

The regulations could take place as soon as next month. That leaves nursing homes like Wells and Albany County’s Shaker Place little time to convince all of their staff to get vaccinated.  

“We have been speaking to staff and getting them to sign the authorization and we’ve been meeting with very little resistance,” Van Slyke said.  

The federal mandate follows another guidance from the state requiring the vaccine for all health care workers. New York State says 68 percent of nursing home workers across the state have received the vaccine.  

“Staffing has been a challenge, so I think the industry at large is concerned what affect this may or may not have on staffing patterns,” said Shaker Place Executive Director Larry Slatky.  

Both nursing homes said most of their staff is already vaccinated. Though the mandate is still drawing staffing concerns from both Van Slyke and Slatky.  

“It’s been a challenge. But it’s only due to the dedicated staff we have at Shaker Place, and it’s not done without a tremendous amount of over time and really pushing staff to their limits, but they do as best they can,” Slatky said. 

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