What happens when nursing homes have to downsize due to staff shortages brought on by the state’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate? There’s growing concern that the vaccine mandate imposed on most healthcare and support workers at hospitals and nursing homes will result in a crisis.
Adequate staffing levels were essential during the coronavirus pandemic’s lockdown last year at nursing homes. Experts say without that it would’ve been impossible to deal with what unfolded over the fall and winter months.
Fast forward and facilities like Bridges Cornell Heights are concerned about what’s coming. They have approximately 70 employees – and all are crucial to keeping the facility up-and-running.
“We’ve been pretty good in that sense, but so many of my colleagues are bracing to lose staff,” owner Elizabeth Ambrose told CNYCentral.com. “We are definitely in the midst of a staffing crisis in the senior living industry.”
The bottom line: Facilities like these need people who can work. Bridges only has about 50 residents, which for its staff of 70 is a lot. Other larger facilities across the Finger Lakes and Central New York regions have two- or three-times as many residents.
What happens when staffing shortages become a reality for nursing homes?
Downsizing. Nursing homes will have to downsize to accommodate the lower staffing levels. It’s similar to hospitals that are now evaluating cuts to services – like maternity departments – out of staffing issues related to the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
If a facility loses 10-20% of its workforce – it may have to reduce the number of beds it has available by 20% or more.
What’s in the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for nursing homes and hospitals?
A deadline has been set by Governor Kathy Hochul and New York State that all healthcare workers in hospitals and nursing homes must be vaccinated- or at least have received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by September 27.
If they have not then they will be terminated for cause, and not be eligible for unemployment.
This has prompted some workers at these types of facilities to find non-vaccine necessary work.
However, there’s also been an intense debate brewing about how many workers will follow-through on quitting- as opposed to getting vaccinated.
For now, facility administrators like Ambrose say the search is on for willing workers. “We need labor. we need people who are available and can work, I’m not sure what the solution is, I wish I knew,” she said.