Large numbers of employees at New York City nursing homes have still not been vaccinated against COVID-19 – with more than 60% of employees at some facilities in the city refusing to receive the vaccine, data from the state.
Vaccination rates among workers are significantly lower than those of vulnerable residents of the same facilities, sparking outrage from advocates who warn it could hamper their ability to visit loved ones at home.
“If staff members choose not to be vaccinated, they should find another area of work,” said Vivian Zayas, founder of Voices for Seniors, whose mother, Ana Martinez, died after contracting COVID- 19 at a Long Island nursing home last year.
“If they want to work in a retirement home, they should get vaccinated. “
As of Sunday, only 58% of staff at the state’s 611 nursing homes had been partially or fully immunized – far less than the 84% of residents, according to state Department of Health data reviewed by The Post.
In New York City’s 167 nursing homes, only 57% of staff had been vaccinated, compared to 78% of residents.
The borough with the most dismal vaccination rate among nursing home staff was Brooklyn, where only 47 percent were vaccinated, well below the 71 percent of residents.
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And in 20 facilities across the city, an incredibly low number of staff – 60% or more – had yet to be vaccinated, according to The Post.
- At the 280-bed Linden Center Nursing Home in Brooklyn, only 25.5% of staff were vaccinated, compared to 54.5% of residents. Richard Brum, General Counsel for the Linden Center, said: “Since vaccines first became available, we have been actively encouraging all staff and residents to get vaccinated.
- At the 305-bed Sea Crest Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, only 29.2% of staff and 29.3% of residents were vaccinated. The property did not respond to a request for comment.
- Only 28 percent of staff have been vaccinated at Woodycrest Center’s 90-bed High Bridge nursing home, which specializes in caring for people with HIV / AIDS. This is only a third of the 74% of residents vaccinated. The nursing home declined to comment.
- Only 28.5 percent of workers were vaccinated at the New Riverdale Rehab and Nursing Home in the Bronx, less than half of the 65.2 percent inoculated residents / patients. A representative who answered the phone said, “We don’t talk to the media. “
- At Manhattan’s Harlem Center for Nursing & Rehab, 28% of employees have been vaccinated, compared to 46.2% of residents. The property did not make any immediate comment.
- At the Peninsula Nursing Home in the Rockaways, Queens – only 25.8 percent of staff were fully immunized compared to 42.3 percent of residents. Peninsula declined a request for comment.
Advocates for nursing home residents said the lower vaccination rate of staff members was a serious problem.
Retirement homes may be fully or partially closed to visitors if only one person at the facility tests positive for COVID-19, to prevent the spread of the killer virus to vulnerable residents.
More needs to be done to encourage staff members to get vaccinated, said Richard Mollot, executive director of the NY Long Term Care Community Coalition.
“The problem is the lack of preparation and education that led to the vaccine announcement,” Mollot said, noting that the state and federal government should have done a better job before the vaccines rolled out in the fall. last in terms of staff and resident training. regarding the acceptance of vaccines.
“We need to have meaningful application in order, coming from state to facility and from CMS to state… If your staff members are vaccinated at a higher rate, then you would have a certain level of collective immunity in an establishment. How do you get this rate? People need to get the vaccine. “
Mollot noted that many caregivers come from minority communities where there has been greater resistance to being vaccinated, due to a history of medical abuse of people of color.
“We have a system that has been down for a long time and when COVID hit it was exacerbated,” he said.
Low vaccination rates among nursing home staff have been a source of tension between state Department of Health officials and facility operators.
Last month, the DOH issued new guidelines requiring nursing homes to offer the vaccine to all residents and staff, and those who refuse must sign a withdrawal statement. Nursing homes that do not follow the rules can be fined up to $ 2,000 per violation.
“Nursing homes have an obligation to vaccinate their residents and staff, and thanks to DOH’s continued intervention, we are seeing progress,” DOH spokesperson Jeffrey Hammond said.
“Their responsibility to vaccinate is not over, nor is our influence and outreach to ensure facilities understand that a COVID vaccine is one of the best ways to protect residents and staff from this dangerous virus.” , added the DOH spokesperson.
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The controversial state handling of the virus in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities has been the subject of several investigations at both state and federal levels.
The Post exclusively reported in February that senior officials in Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration had withheld data on COVID-related deaths among residents of US Department of Justice nursing homes, admitting they were “freezing” when federal officials searched for information.
The Democratic-led state assembly is also examining how the administration has handled data on nursing home deaths throughout the pandemic, a key tenet of the impeachment inquiry of the Assembly Judiciary Commission launched in March.
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