Kansas nursing homes worried about staffing following federal employee vaccine mandate

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A healthcare worker working with the Florida Department of Health in Broward administers a Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine to Nancy Mathews, 90, at the John Knox Village Continuing Care Retirement Community on January 6 in Pompano Beach, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

TOPEKA (KSNT) – President Joe Biden announced nursing home staff must be vaccinated, otherwise they are subject to losing federal funding on August 18, leaving Kansas nursing homes concerned.

“If you visit, live, or work in a nursing home, you should not be at a high risk for contracting COVID from unvaccinated employees,” Biden said.

According to Linda Mowbray, the president and CEO of the Kansas Health Care Association, Kansas nursing homes are generally all funded by Medicare and Medicaid, and are at risk of losing up to 20% of staff as a result of these new rules.

“The mandate [from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid] from the White House that CMS is implementing really caught us off guard,” Mowbray said. “If we lose even one when we’re in this kind of a staffing pinch the staff is already working overtime, they’re already filling in on other shifts.”

Now Mowbray is searching for answers, wondering why nursing homes are being singled out when other long-term care facilities, hospitals and doctor’s offices receive CMS funding too.

“They’ve come to work, some have got sick, they’ve watched people be very ill, they’ve watched people die,” Mowbray said. “It just seems a little bit coldblooded for these people who have been such heroes working so hard.”

About 57% of staff at Kansas nursing homes have the vaccine.

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