Oklahoma nursing homes forced to adjust after Biden issues vaccine requirement

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Local nursing homes are now adjusting after the President announced a vaccination requirement for all employees, threatening a loss of federal funding if they don’t comply.

Former state immunization director Don Blose, now the CEO at Spanish Cove Retirement Village, says he welcomes the President’s vaccine requirement.

“This is gonna bring some peace of mind,” he said. “It was unanticipated but we’re quite comfortable I think with what the federal government is doing.”

Nursing Home Administrator, Cheryl O’Neill adding it’s their duty considering they work with a vulnerable demographic.

“Our number one goal is to protect our residents,” she said. “That’s our job and that’s the best way we can do it.”

Both acknowledge that it might lead to some workers leaving senior living care, but they don’t anticipate it affecting their facility.

“It’s scary at the thought we might lose staff, but really it’s the right thing to do,” Blose added.

Other homes aren’t so fortunate.

Golden Rule Home Administrator, Jessica Mitchell in Shawnee says it will put an even larger strain on local nursing homes.

“[The announcement] was an absolute surprise,” Mitchell said. “It’s already stressful enough as as it is to try to find the amount of people that we need to provide proper quality of care for the population that we serve.”

She’s afraid it could affect shortages not only at their facility but across Oklahoma.

“There has been a lot of people that said if they mandate it then ‘I’ll just quit and I’ll go somewhere where I’m not required to have that,'” Mitchell said. “I’m sure that there’s some nursing homes that all their people are on board with being vaccinated but those other facilities are definitely going to be affected.”

Representative Sean Roberts has requested that state Attorney General John O’Connor review the constitutionality of the President’s requirement, calling it a “prime example of unconstitutional federal overreach.”

Care Providers Oklahoma has also released its own statement, saying the new requirements could cause “unprecedented workforce catastrophe.”

“More importantly,” the statement reads, “this mandate will transform the current workforce shortage in the skilled nursing profession…into an untenable crisis that could result in facility closures and the complete abandonment of vulnerable seniors.”

KFOR reached out to the State Department of Health’s Deputy Commissioner of Health, Keith Reed, and he says it’s still pretty new information and they’re working on the logistics.

He adds the Centers for Medicare and Medicare Services, or CMS, will play a key role in oversight.

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