‘Light at the end of the tunnel’ as vaccinations increase in New York nursing homes

Monroe County

FAIRPORT, N.Y. (WROC) — Public Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza says about 80% of residents in nursing homes have received the COVID-19 vaccine in the Rochester area. About 50% to 60% of staff in nursing homes have received the vaccine there as well.

Paula Bokman—Director of Nursing at Crest Manor Living and Rehab Center—says their home sets an example of the preparedness needed to move forward for eased restrictions. She says the home does everything to keep things safe, keep residents mentally well and updated with the ever-changing guidelines, and help them with Zoom visits.

But even with all the work that’s done to cope, Bokman says staff and residents have expressed they’d like to move forward. She believes they can do so safely after months of educating residents and staff, and months of communication with county health leaders.

“We want to continue to see us move forward, we have a good repour with the Department of Health, close communication with them if we have any COVID questions, questions on what we need to do, they have been very accessible to us which is great,” said Bokman.

“Residents are excited to move forward, we have council meetings, we communicate over Zoom meetings with families, we do meet with residents regularly keep them up to date on any changes taking place,” she said. “We’re looking forward to allowing families to come back, I know how difficult it’s been not being able to see loved ones, that is one of the goals we want to see happen here.”

Any change in visitation policy must come from the state. But as vaccinate rate increases, and nursing homes continue to prepare and educate staff as best they can, Dr. Mendoza says it’s appropriate to explore lifting visitation restrictions ‘very seriously.’

“My concern is that vaccination among staff lags,” he said. “The one thing we can do to stack odds in our favor, is work with those nursing homes, ultimately the people that work in the homes, do what we can to improve vaccination rate,” the public health commissioner said.

“With all those measures in place, I think we can very safely reopen nursing home visitation, continue to test, follow precautions. It’s undeniable that our loved ones living in nursing homes need and want that connection. We are coming up on a year now where many family members haven’t connected, that alone carries a trauma.”

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

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