CLEVELAND — It’s no question, long term care facilities were slammed by COVID-19 in 2020.
"It’s been quite a journey and our staff have been there from the beginning, they were the first ones to respond to the outbreak that began,” said Altercare Health Services Chief Nursing Officer Deanna Hatfield. “I would say last fall was the most significant for us."
Now the long-term care numbers are creeping up again.
Just over a month ago, the state reported 106 COVID-19 cases among residents and staff combined, but on Wednesday the state reported 424 cases.
Altercare Health Services confirmed three of their residents are among this week’s positive cases.
Hatfield said 85% of Altercare residents and 61% of staff members are fully vaccinated.
“We’re still following the CMS and ODH guidance regarding what we should be following for procedures,” said Hatfield. “We have actually enhanced our efforts on vaccinations. We are pretty much following our existing policies that we had in place for quite some time."
Hatfield says the facility is screening patients, staff and visitors.
Masks requirements for visitors and residents are all based on each party’s vaccination status but the facility isn’t requiring vaccines or negative COVID-19 tests for anyone right now.
"I feel safer than many other locations and businesses that aren’t doing that [mandating vaccines]," said Hatfield.
The VA announced this week that it is mandating the majority of its employees to get vaccinated.
News 5 asked the Ohio Health Care Association why vaccinations aren’t a requirement for all long-term care staff in the state.
OHCA Executive Director Pete Van Runkle said long-term care facilities don’t want to risk losing staff members due to a vaccine mandate.
“[Facilities] could if they wanted to but they don’t want to because really the higher concern is having enough staff to take care of people,” said Van Runkle. “It doesn’t really do us much good if we’ve got vaccinated staff but don’t have enough people working"
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