Vicksburg nursing homes are not currently experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak, but vaccination rates among staff differ from facility to facility.
According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), there are four nursing homes in Vicksburg, three of which have coronavirus vaccination rates for staff above 75%. The fourth reports that 15.6 percent of staff are vaccinated.
The most recent data available was recorded on July 18 and showed that the Bluffs Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center had a resident vaccination rate of 83.7% and a staff vaccination rate of 86.3%. Shady Lawn Nursing Home reported an immunization rate of 93.1% for residents and 92.4% for staff members.
The Vicksburg Convalescence Center reported a 90.5% vaccination rate for residents and the highest staff vaccination rate in the area: 98.1%.
The Heritage House of Vicksburg Nursing Center reported that 89.3% of residents were vaccinated against COVID-19 and only 15.6% of staff – the lowest rate for a nursing home in Vicksburg.
A Heritage House representative declined to comment on the facility staff’s low vaccination rate, saying only that the numbers may not be entirely accurate and that the administration “is working to educate staff members about the vaccine. “.
According to its website, Heritage House has a number of COVID-19 prevention and mitigation policies in place, including entrance temperature checks and a questionnaire that must be completed daily by staff members. or any other person entering the establishment.
The COVID-19 vaccine is also offered on-site to any resident or staff member who wishes to receive it.
âCMS believes vaccinations will help protect those most at risk of serious infection or death from COVID-19; therefore, we recommend that all residents and staff receive the vaccine, unless otherwise indicated, âthe policy states. âFully immunized residents can have contact visits if they wish, as well as eat and have group activities with other fully immunized residents. “
Since the start of the pandemic, Heritage House has reported 39 cases of the coronavirus in total and eight deaths.
Vicksburg Recovery Center has comparable resident vaccination percentages to Heritage House (less than a 1% difference between the two), but the reported VCC staff vaccination rate is significantly higher.
Amy Brown, administrator of VCC and COO for Vanguard Healthcare Services, who also owns Shady Lawn Nursing Home, said after seeing the reality of a COVID outbreak, the vaccine was a given.
âIt’s something we’ve been working on for months. We started in December and January trying to see what we could do to make our facilities safer and stand out from the rest, âsaid Brown. âAs we watched nursing homes and care facilities across the country being battered by COVID, we entered into discussions with our management teams in each building. I quickly realized that they all wanted the same thing: to get her out of our building to protect our residents and staff.
âWe started a basic person-to-person effort. If they wanted, we would give them the vaccine.
Vanguard Health Services has four other long-term care facilities in Mississippi, in addition to the two in Vicksburg. The Vicksburg Convalescent Center, Brown said, was one of the first teams to board the COVID-19 vaccines and even sent nurses to work at the drive-thru site hosted by the Department of Health l ‘State of Mississippi.
The vaccine is now mandatory for all staff and new hires at both VCC and Shady Lawn, but even before that policy was enacted in May, Brown said staff members opted to get it done. vaccinate themselves.
âThey all chose to do it themselves. We were sending so much information that we were giving them the precise information they needed, âshe said. âIt was very traumatic. The only thing that has been constant is the denigration of long term care. You are expected to control COVID, when no one can control it. “
In Vicksburg, Brown said, the goal was simple for the homes she oversees: every vaccine given was one more step towards normalcy. From the start, Vanguard Health Services worked with local hospitals, CVS and Walgreens to obtain much-needed doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
In addition to staff and residents, nursing homes also offer free COVID-19 vaccines to family members and anyone else who reaches out and wishes to receive the vaccine.
After a year and a half of eliminating social interactions with residents, she said, the vaccine’s promise for residents and staff was worth getting the shot.
âWe wanted to make a difference and stop the madness that was going on in these homes, where people would feel safe coming to work and residents would feel safe in this building,â Brown said. âIf you’re in a long-term care facility for the reasons you should be, the last thing you want to see is a resident die.
âWe want them to be healthy and have a quality life until their last day. When COVID hit, the things that made them happy were gone, âshe said. âI think our company, our people, were fed up with this. We wanted to put residents and our peers first.