Local nursing homes prepare for vaccine mandate deadline

Coronavirus

HAMBURG, N.Y. (WIVB) — The majority of healthcare workers statewide have until Monday to get at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Right now, state data shows there isn’t a single nursing home in our region with a 100-percent vaccination rate.

Elderwood – which has senior care facilities throughout the Northeast – has an 84-percent vaccination rate among staff. Chuck Hayes, Vice President of Marketing and Communications, said they have been working to get all staff members vaccinated even before Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the state’s mandate. Now Hayes said they’re also preparing for potential staffing shortages.

“[Workers] have all the way through Sunday, and there are vaccination clinics all over that are available to them,” Hayes said. “Aside from that, our clinical team and administrative teams have been working on contingency plans to make sure we’re adequately staffed.”

Our News 4 Investigates team first told you about vaccination rates in nursing homes last month. Since then, the data shows 71 nursing homes in our region have reported their vaccination rates to the state. Of those, more than half of the facilities have not reached a 75-percent full vaccination rate, which is considered the herd immunity threshold.

“I think it should be a personal choice,” said Molly, a local nursing home employee. “We should have the option, and if we don’t get it we should continue testing.”

Jessica, another nursing home employee who is unvaccinated, has worked at her facility for more than a decade.

“It’s sad. You’re losing everything you worked hard for,” she said. “You have pensions and stuff. You’re going to have to figure out what you’re going to do.”

Meanwhile, as local hospitals are working to get their staff vaccinated, Catholic Health released a statement saying they will allow employees who request medical or religious exemptions to continue working for the time being.

However, if a worker does not make this request by Sunday night, they will be placed on unpaid leave and could face termination.

Hospitals are also working to get their staff vaccinated. Catholic Health employees have until Sunday night to request medical or religious exemptions, or they will be placed on unpaid leave.

ECMC says unvaccinated workers will be placed on unpaid leave starting Monday.

Marlee Tuskes is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.

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