GREENFIELD — Some local nursing home facilities already had vaccine mandates in effect before the White House issued theirs Wednesday.
President Biden said moving forward, all nursing home facilities that receive federal funding would need to mandate the COVID-19 vaccination or risk losing federal Medicare and Medicaid funding.
At Clement Manor in Greenfield, the administration issued a vaccine mandate last week, and informed employees, volunteers and on-site contractors and vendors that they would have to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 15.
“We just knew that now is especially the right time to keep our residents safe and healthy moving forward. It’s really important to us that our peers are following suit and that the vaccinations will now be required in nursing homes going forward,” said Clement Manor Marketing Manager Natalie Strade.
Nursing home advocacy groups in Wisconsin support vaccines, but believe the mandate unfairly targets that one type of health care facility.
“A proposal for a blanket mandate for only the nursing facility sector doesn’t make sense to us,” says Rick Abrams, CEO of Wisconsin Health Care Association.
Abrams is worried facilities will find it hard to recruit new employees in an already tight labor market.
“We are concerned that our devoted employees that for whatever reason have chosen not to be vaccinated, will exit long-term care or exit nursing care facilities,” said Abrams.
John Sauer, President and CEO of Leading AGE Wisconsin, is concerned the president’s threat to pull federal funding could be detrimental to some facilities.
“It imposes financial penalties on some providers that are not in the position to absorb the loss of necessary state and federal funding,” said Sauer.
An AARP dashboard of nursing home information says 61.7% of nursing home staff are fully vaccinated and 85% of residents are protected. Those numbers put Wisconsin slightly above the national average.
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