Indiana nursing home worries about the impact of new federal vaccine mandates – Fox 59

by: Bianca Reyes

Posted: / Updated:

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — The clock is ticking for staff at healthcare facilities nationwide.

Following Thursday’s news of a new federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate, some Hoosiers now have just one month to start their vaccine series if they want to meet the deadline of being fully vaccinated by January 4.

“We met bright and early this morning – our executive team – to really sit down and figure out ‘Okay, what are we going to do?’,” said Chief Executive Officer at Hooverwood Living, Evan Lubline.

Hooverwood Living is 150-bed nursing home with 26 assisted living apartments and various services like adult day care and transportation programs. Lubline said the nursing home employs more than 225 staff members overall, but 76 remain unvaccinated.

“I am very proud to report that we have about 75% of our staff vaccinated,” said Lubline. “We’re obviously against a time crunch to make sure that anyone that is not vaccinated is vaccinated.”

Lubline said he relies on each and every one of his staff. Without them he said he will likely need to hire third-party agency staff to fill the gaps.

“And that’s not an ideal situation. In fact, many – not all – but many are taking advantage of this situation with exuberate rates and unfortunately sometimes the quality of the work we get isn’t great,” said Zach Cattell, President of the Indiana Health Care Association.

Cattell said nursing home providers in Indiana have made significant efforts to increase staff vaccination rates. He said an estimated 65% of employees are fully vaccinated with another 2.5% having been partially vaccinated.

“We’re working towards making sure as many staff get vaccinated as we can,” said Cattell. “We know how serious it is and the importance of the vaccination.”

A recent study from the Indiana Health Care Association shows 88% of providers surveyed are using bonuses to address workforce shortages. Meanwhile 84% are increasing hourly wages.

“Facilities are really pulling out all the stops,” said Cattell.

In the end, Cattell said he does not think any amount of incentives will increase and maintain staffing levels by January 4.

“I think that we have a really tough road to travel to get to 100% or even 85% [fully vaccinated],” said Cattell. “It’s going to take time and ultimately it’s going to take a lot of 1-on-1 personal conversations with individuals — and frankly, time for folks to see how effective [vaccines] continues to be.”