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Nursing Homes Still Struggling With Vaccine, Visitation

Feb 19, 2021

Credit KISELEV ANDREY VALEREVICH, SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

More than half of the COVID deaths in Ohio have been in nursing homes. The nursing home death toll jumped by nearly 1,300 in the last week, as the Ohio Department of Health added in 4,000 unaccounted-for deaths to the state’s running total. And many workers in nursing homes and long term care facilities who were moved to the front of the vaccine line are still rejecting their place in it. 

Around half of nursing home staffers are still turning down the vaccine, according to Pete Van Runkle with the Ohio Health Care Association, which represents those facilities. But that’s a slight improvement over earlier rejection rates. While Gov. Mike DeWine says he won’t mandate vaccines, Van Runkle says some facilities are, but not all – for a reason.

“Obviously, staffing is critically needed and folks are a little bit a little bit hesitant, hesitant to to put any more barriers in the way of folks coming to work for us.”

But Van Runkle says nearly all residents have been vaccinated, and visitation is allowed in 67 counties that are no longer red on the federal COVID map.  Van Runkle says PPE, masks and social distancing are still required. And he says compassionate care visits are always allowed – not just at the end of life, and some facilities are encouraging them to help residents deal with isolation.