FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – President Joe Biden announces he is requiring COVID-19 vaccines for nursing home staff.
President Biden said this requirement will be a condition for facilities to continue receiving federal Medicaid on Medicare funding.
Rachel Bunch with the Arkansas Health Care Association said that means it will apply to all Arkansas nursing homes.
“Today I’m announcing a new step,” said President Joe Biden. “If you work in a nursing home and serve people on Medicare or Medicaid, you’ll also be required to get vaccinated.”
Bunch said this seems like a logical step for nursing home staff.
“Of all the tools we have at our disposal, vaccines seem to be the most effective at lessening the symptoms of the virus,” she said.
However, she has mixed feelings about the announcement.
“I have concerns about staff members who don’t want to take the vaccine and what that might do to an already-strained workforce situation.”
61.03% of staff in Arkansas facilities are fully vaccinated.
At one local nursing home, getting all of its staff vaccinated might not be much of a problem.
“When it very began, we were 70% fully vaccinated for our employees,” said Butterfield Trail Village Director Jay Green. “We’re now 87.5, which that number will go up because I know of five employees that are waiting for their second shot.”
Green said it is important we remember why health officials are stressing for nursing home employees to get vaccinated.
I don’t want to go back to the point where I have to tell a wife or a husband that they can’t come in and see their loved one. That is the hardest thing that you will ever have to do in this industry. We lost time with family we lost time with residents that we’ll never get back.“JAY GREEN, DIRECTOR, BUTTERFIELD TRAIL VILLAGE
Bunch said 82.61% of nursing home residents across Arkansas are fully vaccinated. This is slightly above the national average of 82.4%.