Indiana long-term care facilities trying to get more workers vaccinated as federal mandate looms

Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS — With a possible deadline for the federal vaccine mandate looming, state records show many long-term care facility staff members remain unvaccinated.

According to the Indiana State Department of Health’s COVID-19 vaccine dashboard, 42% of the state’s long-term care facility staff members remain unvaccinated as of August 29, the last update provided.

At Hooverwood Living in Indianapolis, 75% of the staff is vaccinated, according to CEO Evan Lubline.

“It’s really been just making a real big effort probably the last 30 days to really encourage people to do the right thing,” Lubline said.

Lubline attributes that recent progress to conversations among staff members as well as encouragement or requirements from other facilities.

Still, he said he’s worried about the 25% of staff members who aren’t vaccinated as a federal mandate for health care settings looms.

Facilities that don’t enforce the mandate are at risk of losing Medicare and Medicaid funding — a risk Hooverwood can’t afford, Lubline said.

“Of course we’re scared because staffing has been a challenge for years,” Lubline said. “And now it’s kind of come full circle.”

It’s not just Lubline who is concerned about the federal vaccine mandate and the potential impact on staffing at long-term care facilities. It’s a concern for local health officials across the state as well.

“We really need to focus on our health care professionals and try to figure out why they are not accepting of the vaccine,” said Angela Cox, administrator for the Henry County Health Department.

Cox, a registered nurse, said she wants to see more one-on-one conversations with those who are unvaccinated and have questions.

“It does work,” she said. “If you have the opportunity to sit down with somebody to truly answer their questions and change that narrative, I have seen it work and be very successful to change their minds.”

We’ve asked the state health department for more current vaccination data on long-term care facilities since the vaccination information posted online is nearly a month old.

A spokesperson said the data comes through a federal database and that the information from August 29 is the most recent data it has.

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