Nursing homes push to vaccinate more staff members

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI)- Nursing homes continue to work tirelessly to protect patients.

The surge in Coronavirus numbers is pushing facilities to vaccinate staff members.

One facility here in Columbus is approaching complete vaccination to keep workers and patients safe.

180 is the number of COVID-19 outbreaks in long-term care facilities across Mississippi.

There’s been a total of 266 cases in Lowndes County since March of 2020. The numbers are only going higher.

“Staff is back on high alert. Lowndes County is in the red right now,” said Administrator of Aurora Health and Rehabilitation, Amber Harper.

” We’re busy, and we are in full swing right now. The hospitals are slammed. We are getting admissions straight out of the emergency room,” said Harper.

In June, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced Aurora Health and Rehabilitation as one of four nursing homes in Mississippi having at least a 75% vaccination rate.

It’s now up to 99%. One employee is waiting for a second dose, and two patients remain un-vaccinated.

“We had some employees that felt strongly about not taking it, and they left the facility. You’re going to have people who do not want it, and they’re going to part ways,” said Harper.

On August 18,2021 the Biden administration announced that all nursing home workers soon have to be vaccinated to keep funding like Medicare and Medicaid. New regulations could take effect in September.

” We saw the need for it. We also see people don’t like to have things forced on them. We go back and forth. But to make progress, we feel like it’s a good decision,” said Harper.

” I think it’s the responsible thing to do. You’re in the health care business. Whether you work with the elderly, pediatric, or a person, you’re in a business where you’re in healthcare. You’re there because you want to take care of others and help others,” said nurse Gina Lowe.

And preventing cases can help the entire community.

” We’re more prepared this year than we were last year. We’ve learned so much, and we try to take that and based what our facility needs and what our patients need,” said Lowe.

Mandating vaccines among staff members is allowed by Aurora Health and Rehabilitation.

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