Nursing homes in California and nationwide have borne the brunt of bad news reported by the media. Some of the criticism was well-deserved yet tended to overshadow the work ethic that many nursing home staff and management performed under the worst of circumstances.
These care centers have experienced unprecedented turnover that resulted in staffing shortages throughout the worldwide pandemic. With the introduction of vaccines earlier in the year, not to mention the prominence of the Delta variant, another mandate may arise that management fears would see employees fleeing their jobs.
Requirements could lead to an employee exodus
The current presidential administration has informed nursing homes that they should require COVID-19 vaccine mandates for nursing home workers by next month. Facilities that refuse would lose much-needed Medicare and Medicaid funding.
Even if administrators agree with the mandate protecting vulnerable elderly residents, they may see an exodus of employees initially prioritized when the vaccines were first introduced. Currently, the nationwide percentage of vaccinated staff ranges from 44 to 88 percent – depending on the facility – based on data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Countless nursing homes are dealing with deficits when it comes to qualified staff. Filling vacancies already presented challenges before the mandate. Those in charge of facilities had tried to implement their own vaccine directives, only to reverse their decision when the employees still working threatened to walk out.
Earlier in August, California officials announced full vaccination requirements for nursing home staff and all healthcare workers by the end of September. Currently, the number vaccinated in the state exceeded 80 percent, much higher than the national rate of 62 percent.
For nursing homes nationwide with staff resisting “the jab,” the loss of government funding combined with employees quitting could have devastating effects. Facilities may be forced to shutter their operations, forcing residents to find new nursing homes for the care they need.