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Health & Science

Ohio Nursing Homes Brace for Loss of Staff and Possible Closures From New Federal Mandate

 Patient walks with walker with help of nursing staffer
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Patients at nursing homes might find facilities are even more short staffed, if they don't close altogether, as a result of a new federal requirement that workers at nursing homes must be vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the Ohio Health Care Association.

Nearly half of the employees in Ohio’s nursing homes have not been vaccinated. President Joe Biden has announced all staff at nursing homes must be vaccinated in order for the facilities to continue receiving Medicaid or Medicare payments. But there’s a concern that order could actually do more harm than good.

The president of the state’s nursing homes lobbying group says the places he represents are concerned.

“Taking away Medicaid and Medicare is a death sentence for most facilities,” said Pete Van Runkle, president of the Ohio Health Care Association.

He says, on average, nursing homes are already 10% short-staffed because there aren’t enough employees to work lower-wage jobs in those facilities.

“The reality is there will be some percentage that just are not going to do it. They are opposed to vaccination, or COVID vaccination, and basically they are not going to do it and will go get a job elsewhere so it is the patients who will pay the price,” Van Runkle said.

He says nursing homes in rural areas will be hit the hardest and some could close if they lose the federal funding.
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