Roughly a month after New York state made being fully vaccinated for COVID-19 a job requirement for workers with the state’s licensed home health agencies, more than 30,000 caregivers failed to meet Thursday’s deadline.
While the rate for New York home-based care workers checked in at about 86% partially vaccinated and 71% fully vaccinated, at least 34,000 caregivers have not begun the process at all, according to reports from The New York Times.
The new data comes from preliminary reports from New York’s Department of Health. The department gathered this information by surveying licensed home care agencies in the state about vaccination levels among their workers.
Overall, the percentage of vaccinated home-based care workers is higher than expected but those who have missed the deadline are unable to continue working.
This means New York providers are moving to prevent a major loss of workers as a result, according to Al Cardillo, president of the Home Care Association of New York State (HCA-NYS).
“Agencies are trying to not fire people, even though the regulation says if you don’t comply, you’re to be terminated,” he told Home Health Care News. “They are trying everything from putting people on leave to things like PTO, but you can only sustain that for so long.”
Despite the organization’s support of universal vaccination across all home-based care, the mandate has received pushback from the HCA-NYS.
“We have been saying to our governor and our state health department, from the beginning, if you’re going to apply the mandate … you need to do it in a way that doesn’t cause a dislocation of care service for patients and a loss of workforce,” Cardillo said.
HCA-NYS is a state trade organization that represents nearly 400 home- and community-based care providers and organizations.
Further compounding workforce challenges, caregiver shortages exist in the field at “emergency levels,” according to Cardillo.
“You’re creating a huge cliff in the availability of services for vulnerable people,” he said.
HCA-NYS has urged state government officials to adopt a “phase-up” approach to the vaccine mandate.
“We’re not asking to delay the mandate, but implement it in a steady series of increments within the system,” Cardillo said. “It would be a phase-up, measured milestone trajectory for getting to the point where you’re reaching these broad public health vaccination goals. In the meantime, you’re not sacrificing huge chunks of availability of care services for people overnight.”
Cardillo noted that a phase-up approach would give home-based care providers time to determine the best mode of intervention for caregivers who have not yet been vaccinated.
For example, many providers have adapted the peer-to-peer method when it comes to engaging caregivers who may have vaccine hesitancy. The idea behind this approach is that the opportunity to learn more about the vaccine from industry peers can be effective.
“One of the more successful practices by agencies has been peer-to-peer support,” Cardillo said. “That might take a bit of time — four, five, six, or even seven one-on-one visits. That requires a runway. If we were under a phase-up timeline this would likely be at least one of the interventions agencies could try.”
This article was written by Joyce Famakinwa on October 11th, 2021 and can be found here. Please be sure to visit HomeHealthCareNews.com for more articles written by Joyce and other quality contributors.