…As the Delta variant spreads through New Hampshire, spiking daily infections and filling hospitals in its wake, healthcare providers have looked to vaccine mandates as a way to protect their vulnerable patients and residents. [The hospitals are NOT “filling” in NH. There are just 5 Covid patients in Concord hospital, none in ICU.]
However, employees like Grinnell have planted hesitation in the minds of administrators. In an industry that is facing a severe shortage of workers, losing employees over a vaccine mandate could throw the provider into a state of crisis.
On Wednesday evening, the Biden administration put even more pressure on nursing homes by announcing that the facilities must require their staff to be vaccinated in order to participate in Medicare and Medicaid. Brendan Williams, the president of the New Hampshire Health Care Association, said nearly all nursing homes in New Hampshire rely on these federal healthcare programs to keep their doors open.
“Medicare is a lifeline for nursing homes,” he said. “There is no way anyone is going to opt-out. It’s just the nature of how we fund long-term care in our country.”
David Ross, the administrator at Hillsborough County Nursing Home, said prior to the White House announcement, the home opted to keep chipping away at the remaining unvaccinated with incessant education and encouragement rather than imposing a requirement. The home made slow but steady progress: at Tuesday’s vaccine clinic, four new employees signed up to get vaccinated.
He said he fears the vaccine requirements could cause about 20% of his staff to quit. On Thursday morning, mere hours after Biden announced the mandate, one of his staff members told him she already lined up an interview for another job. He said several more staff were distressed about the announcement as well.
Ross said he is a strong proponent of vaccinations for healthcare workers but the announcement puts his facility in a precarious staffing position.…