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LTC Workforce and COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

LeadingAge New York’s members include a variety of providers affected by the COVID-19 vaccination mandate:  nursing homes, adult day health care programs, adult care/assisted living facilities, certified home health agencies, licensed home care services agencies, hospice programs, and PACE programs.  These long term care and post-acute providers have been working tirelessly and heroically for 17 months to protect the vulnerable New Yorkers under their care from COVID and other health risks, while providing the highest possible quality of life, despite social distancing requirements, unprecedented staffing shortages, Medicaid rate cuts, onerous reporting requirements, and constantly changing and often inconsistent directives issued with little notice by multiple agencies at the state and federal levels.

Our members celebrated the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccines in December, and have been working to get all residents and staff vaccinated since that time. We are grateful to have an effective tool in protecting the vulnerable populations that our members serve. If not for the staffing shortages facing these providers, we would wholeheartedly endorse a vaccine mandate. Unfortunately, these providers are confronting the most challenging workforce shortages in memory and our members are concerned that the vaccination mandate will only exacerbate the existing workforce crisis.

The state must do more to support the recruitment and retention of staff by long-term care and post-acute providers.  It cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the needs of vulnerable older adults and the staffing needs of facilities, programs, and home care agencies. Moreover, any vaccination mandate must be applied uniformly across all health care settings, and preferably across all public-facing jobs.  Otherwise, health care personnel who are hesitant to accept the vaccine may migrate from a setting with a vaccine mandate to one that is not subject to a mandate.

Enter your information below to send a letter to your lawmakers, urging them to re-consider the proposed emergency regulation mandating COVID-19 vaccination of health care personnel. It only takes a few clicks!

Additionally, members are encouraged to call their lawmakers to explain in more individualized and specific terms your reasons for concern regarding the workforce challenges you face. Your State Senator and Assembly Member contact info can be found here. Members may also contact the State Department of Health by calling 518-474-2011.

Recommended talking points for phone calls:

  • State your name, title and organization
  • I am calling regarding the serious workforce challenges we are facing in our organization, and the proposed emergency regulation mandating COVID-19 vaccination of health care personnel working in long-term care settings, which will unfortunately exacerbate this situation.
  • If not for the staffing shortages facing long-term care providers, we would wholeheartedly endorse a vaccine mandate.
  • Since the vaccine roll-out, we have done everything in our power to encourage vaccination among staff and residents. (Include examples of what your organization did in this effort).
  • (Share current vaccination rates of staff and residents in your organization)
  • While we as an organization are strong advocates for the vaccine and are doing everything we can, we believe that this new mandate will exacerbate workforce challenges, causing some existing unvaccinated staff to seek employment in alternative settings that do not require vaccine and deterring potential workers from pursuing employment in aging services.
  • With the announcement of the nursing home vaccine mandate a few weeks ago, some providers are already experiencing resignations and threatened resignations. (Provide examples if you have any).
  • The state must do more to support the recruitment and retention of staff by long-term care providers. It cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the needs of vulnerable older adults and the staffing needs of facilities, programs, and home care agencies.
  • Moreover, any vaccination mandate must be applied uniformly across all health care settings (and preferably across all public-facing jobs). Otherwise, health care personnel who are hesitant to accept the vaccine may migrate from a setting with a vaccine mandate to one that is not subject to a mandate.  For example, nurses may migrate from long-term care and hospital jobs to physician practice jobs, and home care aides may migrate from licensed home care agencies to the CDPAP.
  • Thank you for your time in speaking with me on this important issue.