Nursing homes/assisted living facilities hit hardest so far by vaccine mandate

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — As New York State’s vaccine mandate for healthcare workers goes into effect, initial reports indicate it’s hitting nursing homes and assisted living centers the hardest.

While Governor Kathy Hochul says statewide 92% of nursing home staff and 89% of adult care facilities staff have received at least their first dose of the COVID19 vaccine, that still leaves 8-11% of employees who have not and are now on unpaid leave.

Forty to 50 people who work at the Livingston County Nursing Home are now on unpaid leave, most of those employees provided direct care to residents, “LPNs, CNAs and RNs…CNAs are the majority of titles within the nursing arena that are in this mix,” explains Livingston County Administrator Ian Coyle. For the time being, New York State is allowing facilities to hire uncertified nursing assistants, vaccinated people who can basically learn on the job, “it’s not something you would ever see, except in this kind of pandemic, emergent situation that we find ourselves in,” Coyle says.

In the meantime, like many other local nursing homes, the Livingston County Nursing Home won’t be accepting new residents which is an issue for local hospitals who are facing staffing shortages of their own and already have patients who need nursing care backing up in their facilities. “You already needed more staff before the mandate, then layer on top of that the mandate, layer on top of that Covid, layer on top of that this hospital – nursing home dynamic of no admissions because we can’t staff it vs. we are full already at the hospital we need to get those patients out and this is what you have,” Coyle says, “We kind of had this perfect storm brewing.”

For those with family members in nursing care, “first of all the care of their loved ones is the primary focus of the operation,” explains Coyle, “there’s a lot of dust-settling left to happen here so we don’t know about the religious exemptions we don’t know if there will be maybe a slight variation to this.