VACCINE MANDATE … Hillside Country Living Director Darrell Moore was present at the Williams County Commissioners meeting on Thursday morning, August 19, 2021 to update them on a vaccine mandate that has come down from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. This mandate if it is put through next month will deeply affect the workforce in nursing homes according to Moore. (PHOTO BY REBECCA MILLER, STAFF)
By: Rebecca Miller
Hillside Country Living Director, Darrell Moore, met with the Williams County Commissioners for the Monthly meeting on Thursday, August 19, 2021, at 8:30 a.m., which is an unrecorded meeting.
During that meeting he gave the commissioners some news that they felt strongly should be on the record, so they asked him if he would return for the General Session that morning, which is recorded.
Following the regular business of the day, the Commissioners welcomed Moore and asked him to share again what he had told them at the monthly meeting.
Moore thanked them for the inclusion at such short notice and proceeded to say, “I just wanted to make the Commissioners aware that CMS (Centers for Medicaid/Medicare Services) announced yesterday, August 18, 2021, that all nursing home staff in the nation will be mandated to be fully vaccinated as a condition to participation in Medicare and Medicaid. This is NOT an immediate action, as the final rule is expected to be released next month.”
He read a statement from the American Health Care Association (AHCA) in response to this initial information release: “We appreciate the administration’s efforts to increase COVID-19 vaccinations in long term care.
Unfortunately, this action does not go far enough. The government should not single out one provider group for mandatory vaccinations. Vaccination mandates for health care personnel should be applied to all health care settings.
Without this, nursing homes face a disastrous workforce challenge.” The AHCA continued, “Focusing on nursing homes will cause vaccine-hesitant workers to flee to other health care providers and leave many centers without adequate staff to care for residents.
It will make an already difficult workforce shortage even worse. The net effect of this action will be the opposite of it’s intent and will affect the ability to provide quality care to our residents. We look forward to working with the administration in the coming days to develop solutions to overcome this challenge.”
Moore said that at Hillside they agree that this is already a tight situation for staffing that is facing the industry and “having vaccinations for just nursing homes will further complicate that to where we have staff members that could easily go to other health care settings…and not serve the people who are really at risk for this vaccination.”
He continued, “We do encourage our employees to become fully vaccinated. We currently are at about 50% vaccination rate for our employees, which is about the national average.”
“We agree that the vaccination is a benefit, but mandating it for just this one sector we believe is wrong. So I am going to be working with the AHCA and the Ohio Health Care Association to try to get some resolution for this.” Moore asked the commissioners if they could think of anything further he could do to “move this along.”
There was some discussion in which points that were made included:
- Nursing Homes are specifically targeted by this action but it is expected that it will extend through the CSM system to any medical facilities that use Medicaid or Medicare
- How unfair it seems to target just nursing homes as they are not the only ones using Medicare and Medicaid
- The need to “stave off an exodus from the industry” as Moore is concerned that many will leave it altogether for a more lucrative job with a fast food restaurant
- Commissioner Lew Hilkert thanked Moore for what a great job that has been done to keep the residents at HCL safe during covid.
- Commissioner Terry Rummel said that he feels “the government is over reaching in this…it is time to stand up and say enough is enough.” He spoke about the tax payers covering this and that even though he is strongly in favor of the vaccinations, he feels “The government should not be telling us what we can and cannot do and holding a stick over our heads.”
Moore is planning to meet next week with the nursing home association to which Hillside belongs. They will be meeting in Columbus for their two day conference and he feels that it is very timely as this just came up. He said that most likely this will be the major topic of the two days.
Commissioner Brian Davis raised the thought of having a conversation with legal counsel. “I would assume that somebody is going to file an injunction on this and then we could always turn and do an Amicus Brief and attach ourselves to it.”
They all agreed that it should be with a law firm in Columbus if there is litigation. Commissioner Hilkert informed Moore that he will get some phone numbers to him of attorneys that the county has used in the past and he also said it is important to get the county prosecutor’s comment on it at this time.
He encouraged Moore, saying, “I know you will do this, but just continue to keep all your safeguards in place that you have been using, because it has been successful.”
Rummel asked Mr. Moore to “please let your employees know that we are not in favor of this and we support their freedom of rights and that we are working hard to try to help that situation. … We feel 100% comfortable with what you folks do in our facility.” Moore said that he will keep the Commissioners updated as to any changes that occur with it.
The regular business in General Session included:
- Resolution 289 Supplemental Appropriations on behalf of Common Pleas Court – Adult Probation, Common Pleas Court, Department of Aging, Hillside Country Living and Sheriff’s Office
- Resolution 290 Advertising for Sealed Bids for Project #06-2021 – 2021 Pavement Marking
- Also signed: Dog Warden Report for Week of August 9 – 15, 2021; Permit to work within County/Township Road Right of Way Limits on behalf of Frontier Communications; CDBG Economic Development Pre-Application – AquaBounty Farms Ohio LLC; Credit Card Appropriations on behalf of Sheriff’s Office for September 2021; Mortgage Release for Anna Lukey – CHIP Program; Requests from Department of Aging – Acceptance of Resignation for P. Ewers; Home Delivery Coordinator salary increase; and Requests for Pay from MVPO for grant funding.
- Minutes for August 16, 2021 and payment of bills
Commissioner Rummel gave an update on what has been happening with so many accidents in the construction zone on the Ohio Turnpike. The turnpike had made a number of adjustments, putting up different signage and opening more toll gates at Westgate, more staff, putting a police car during the hot times and putting up the flashing sign that notes the speed of oncoming cars. Despite all of these changes, accidents are still happening.
Rummel said he will be meeting with the turnpike director, Franz Ahmed, again and he is hoping they can come up with some better solutions.
With no further business, the meetings for the day adjourned.
Rebecca can be reached at email@example.com