Pandemic Emergency Plan
The Maplewood has a Pandemic Emergency Plan with detailed information about our facility’s emerging infectious disease response plan.
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From Greg Chambery, Administrator
September 28, 2021
Staff and Resident COVID Vaccinations
In mid-August, a regulation announced by Governor Andrew Cuomo proclaimed that all healthcare workers in New York State would need to either be fully vaccinated or have their first dose of the COVID vaccine by September 27, 2021. Shortly thereafter the Biden administration followed with a similar rule. Since then, there has been a lot of controversy about the regulation and a lot of discussion about whether it is a realistic and fair mandate.
As we looked at our own situation at Maplewood, we found that about 13% of our workforce was not vaccinated and had no intention of receiving the vaccination. All along we have been testing unvaccinated employees twice a week to be sure they don’t come into the building with COVID. The 13% figure represented about 26 staff members. It’s important to point out that some of these folks worked right through the 2020-2021 COVID pandemic and several got COVID themselves during that time. Personally, I felt torn by the mandate. These dedicated people worked through the worst of the pandemic and now would have to be let go. Complicating the situation even more is the fact that there are not workers available to replace those that are unwilling to get vaccinated. Despite this challenge, we have fully followed the dictates of the vaccination regulations.
Maplewood lost some terrific people on September 27, 2021. It would be wrong to not remember those team members. I want to recognize and thank them for their good work and caring spirit as they helped us in countless ways throughout the pandemic. Now, as we manage through this staffing hurdle, we are confident in our current staff to maintain the Maplewood promise of high quality care to our residents and families. Many are rising to the occasion, taking on extra shifts where needed. In addition, we’ve had success attracting new staff.
Creating a vaccination mandate that gives all of New York healthcare only 45 days to comply brings with it a staffing challenge that is unprecedented. I don’t think anyone anticipated the numbers of people that would leave healthcare because of their strong belief in not being vaccinated. As I write this update, we have seen facility closings as well as some hospitals and other facilities not accepting patients because the lack of staffing has put them at full capacity. We are truly in a time of great challenge as we look for healthcare workers who can fit the new requirements in a COVID world.
COVID in Nursing Homes
Some may think that since all healthcare workers are now required to be vaccinated, we have solved the problem of COVID attacking nursing home residents. Unfortunately, it is not that easy. Here are some facts to consider:
- Visitors to the facility are not required to be vaccinated against COVID. Maplewood is not allowed to ask visitors about vaccination status or require that visitors be vaccinated in order to visit.
- Several other facilities are reporting break through cases where vaccinated staff and residents have recently been found to be positive for COVID. Maplewood has not experienced this yet, but there is a high probability that we may see this in our populations as we move forward.
- At this point the medical community has not clearly identified the degree to which the initial vaccine is effective against the COVID variant that is now prevalent in our area. We are told that it will lessen symptoms, but we do not know how effective it is in preventing COVID variants that will eventually come our way.
On a positive note, we expect the booster to be available soon and hope to begin providing it to residents and staff in October.