August 25, 2021

Indiana Nursing Homes Fear Staff Shortage If Vaccines Are Mandated

Article origination IPBS-RJC
Health care groups in Indiana worry that mandating a vaccine will cause staffing shortages that, in turn, will cause nursing home patients to suffer worse treatment.  - FILE PHOTO: WFIU/TIU

Health care groups in Indiana worry that mandating a vaccine will cause staffing shortages that, in turn, will cause nursing home patients to suffer worse treatment.

FILE PHOTO: WFIU/TIU

Following President Joe Biden’s announcement that nursing home workers will be required to get vaccinated, some fear it will cause staff to leave the already understaffed industry. According to the state's vaccine dashboard, only about half of Indiana’s long-term care workers are currently vaccinated.

Biden’s plan targeting nursing home staff threatens to remove federal Medicare and Medicaid funding for non-compliance. There are still no details about when it would take effect. Health care groups in Indiana fear nursing home workers will leave to other health care settings where vaccinations are not required. 

READ MORE: How Is Indiana Distributing COVID-19 Vaccines? Here's What You Need To Know


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Kathleen Unroe researches geriatrics at the Regenstrief Institute. She said the policy may also be too narrowly focused. Patients in nursing homes frequently come in contact with outside medical workers who aren’t required to get vaccines. 

“Without a more universal mandate, we will lose more staff than we would otherwise, which creates other critical patient care issues,” she said.

Some Indiana long-term care facilities still have staff vaccination rates as low as 13 percent.

Contact reporter Justin at jhicks@wvpe.org or follow him on Twitter at @Hicks_JustinM.

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