BLOOMINGTON – When Governor JB Pritzker on Wednesday described “a disturbing number of (long-term care) facilities with staff immunization rates below 25%”, Illinois Department of Public Health data indicated that a few places in McLean County fit this description.
As the Delta variant of COVID-19 rages statewide, Pritzker berated long-term care facilities for exhibiting disparities where “staff immunization rates are significantly lower than your residents.”
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting 133,513 COVID-related deaths among nursing home residents and 549,451 COVID deaths among staff since the start of the pandemic.
In McLean County, IDPH data shows three long-term care facilities with staff vaccination rates below 25%:
- 22.7% of Arcadia Care Bloomington employees are fully immunized
- 22.9% of Luther Oaks employees in Bloomington are fully vaccinated
- 20% of Bloomington Rehabilitation and Health Care staff are fully immunized
While the governor on Wednesday made masks mandatory in all long-term care facilities and compulsory vaccines for workers in all state-run long-term or collective care homes, private entities can still allow staff members to make their own choices regarding immunization – at least for now.
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Greg Wilson, senior vice president of operations at Peoria-based Petersen Health Care, which operates Bloomington Rehabilitation and Health Care, said the state may take “broader measures” regarding mandatory vaccination once that full approval would come from the Food and Drug Administration.
In the meantime, he told Pantagraph, the company is allowing employees to choose for themselves.
“We are trying a strong persuasion first,” he said. “We are strongly pro-vaccination and have worked hard since January to get our residents and staff vaccinated.”
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About 61% of Bloomington Rehab residents are fully immunized, according to the IPDH.
Making shooting a requirement for employees “is still under review,” Wilson said.
Luther Oaks Executive Director Douglas Rutter said that in the early days of vaccination, the organization “moved quickly to ensure all residents and team members the opportunity to have access to the COVID vaccine -19 “.
“In January 2021, Luther Oaks hosted a campus-wide vaccination clinic. This clinic has enabled more than 94% of our residents to be vaccinated,” Rutter said in a statement. âWe are very pleased that such a high percentage of our residents have received protection from the COVID-19 vaccine. ”
While the percentage of staff is significantly lower, Rutter said the organization “respects that the decision to receive the vaccine is a private decision that each team member and resident must make for themselves.”
âWe have educated our residents and team members about the vaccine and continue to encourage all residents and team members to receive the vaccine,â he said, adding that although the vaccine is not not required, incentives have been offered to employees who are vaccinated. .
A request for comment from Arcadia Care Bloomington was not returned on Thursday.
Not all establishments find it difficult to have their staff vaccinated. At Westminster Village in Bloomington, 94% of staff are fully immunized, as are 98% of residents.
At the McLean County Nursing Home in Normal, 85% of staff are fully immunized, along with 88% of residents. Administrator Terri Edens declined to comment.
Heritage Operations, which operates two long-term care facilities in the Twin Cities, told the State-Journal Register on Wednesday that it plans to make vaccination mandatory for staff, giving them a deadline of September 6.
At the company’s Heritage Health Bloomington, 87% of staff and 88% of residents are fully immunized, and at Heritage Health Normal, 34% of staff and 92% of residents are fully immunized.
Westminster Village Administrator Barb Nathan told the Pantagraph that she believes an early vaccination mandate for employees has helped her organization grow its numbers quickly.
“We made this decision in December – even before we had vaccination dates,” she said. “We discussed this – we talked about what we are called to do and the people have been incredibly supportive.”
At The Loft Rehabilitation and Nursing in Normal, the IDPH reported that 100% of staff were fully immunized, but Vice President of Business and Development Cory Row said that percentage was inconsistent with what the company had followed internally.
âWe’re all aiming for that number, without a doubt, butâ¦ I can’t say we’re there because it’s not,â he said.
Staff are working to determine where the disconnect between the company and the IDPH has occurred, he said, adding that he was not yet able to provide an estimate of that percentage. .
The OSF St. Joseph Medical Center in Bloomington is one of the facilities monitored by the IDPH for immunization data. Spokeswoman Libby Allison said it’s because the hospital has a “transitional care unit” for people who need “a little more therapy or time to heal before they return home. at her’s”.
While 80% of these staff are listed as fully vaccinated, the number is likely to increase since OSF HealthCare recently made vaccination mandatory for all of its employees by the end of September.