Midstate nursing home workers manage Statewide vaccination rates

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CARLISLE, Pa. (WHTM) — The State of Pennsylvania wants all nursing facilities to have 80% of their staff vaccinated. However, some homes are pushing back and say that mandate may cause more problems than it solves.

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Many say it’s a challenge to reach the deadline of October 1 set by the Wolf administration, especially when only 14% have currently reached that goal.

Nursing home workers say they would like to see higher rates, but not under-mandated terms.

“It seems like an intersection of impossible circumstances,” Deborah Sprague C.E.O. of the Chapel Pointe Nursing Home, said.

Sprague says workers are aware of the details of President Biden’s vaccine requirements, and the State’s own mandate to get 80% of each facility’s workers vaccinated.

Yet the faith-based organization believes it’s up to each person to decide for themselves.

“We continue to encourage vaccinations, but we stand against mandates, and I know that is a controversial topic that many people have an opinion on,” Sprague said.

The State Department of Health says unvaccinated staff can transmit COVID-19 to those living in nursing homes, who are at a much higher risk of severe illness and death.

As for Chapel Pointe, 95% of residents have been vaccinated along with 62% of its staff.

“We have staff who, because of religious or personally held values, don’t want to be vaccinated and they have communicated clearly that if they are forced to be vaccinated, they will be forced to be worked in another industry,” Sprague said.

Sprague says the dilemma is mandating vaccinations, which runs a big risk of losing workers, and that could mean accepting fewer patients or compromising care.

“You feel badly about leaving beds vacant when there are those in the hospital who need a skilled bed,” Sprague said.

Staff says they are doing their best to manage and encourage vaccinations and understand the many concerns, but administrators don’t want to force anything which could cripple business,” Sprague said.

The organization says they are doing their best to manage and encourage vaccinations and understand the many concerns. Administrators say they do not want to force anything, which could cripple the business.

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