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With Federal Rules Released, Lagging Senior Living Providers Must Mandate Staff Vaccination

Companies that employ more than 100 people — including senior living providers — must implement a mandatory Covid-19 vaccination policy, under an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rule issued Thursday. 

All workers in these companies must receive their final Covid-19 vaccination shot by January 4, 2022. Alternately, workers could undergo routine Covid-19 testing and wear face coverings.

OSHA also is assessing whether smaller employers have the capacity to mandate Covid vaccination, and is seeking comments on this issue from the public, the agency stated in its interim final rule, which is set to be published tomorrow in the Federal Register.

Also on Thursday, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced details of a vaccination requirement for all workers at health care facilities receiving Medicare or Medicaid. This rule applies to long-term care facilities and also carries a January 4, 2022 deadline for workers to receive their final Covid-19 shot — either their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or the single-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

Many senior living providers already have mandated Covid-19 vaccination, including large providers such as Brookdale Senior Living (NYSE: BKD); Atria Senior Living/Holiday Retirement; Senior Lifestyle Corporation; and Enlivant. Smaller providers such as Juniper Communities and The Arbor Company also have mandated vaccination.

Several of these operators work with Sabra Health Care REIT (Nasdaq: SBRA), and they have not experienced serious turnover as a result of implementing mandates, Sabra CEO Rick Matros said Thursday during the company’s Q3 2021 earnings call.

“They saw low [to mid] single-digit attrition, and they didn’t have to raise wages to do it,” Matros said. “Viscerally, you feel like it’s going to be a bigger issue, which is holding back some of the other operators.”

Now that the CMS and OSHA policies are in place, Matros expects that more providers will be happy to implement mandates despite previous hesitancy.

“A lot of them really want a mandate,” he said.

While mandates do not seem to be driving notable turnover in senior living, even minor increases in turnover will be unwelcome in the current labor environment. Most senior living providers — like employers in various sectors — are under intense pressure, given worker shortages, rising wages and other challenges.

However, unvaccinated staff also threaten to cause workforce disruption, as Covid-19 outbreaks create tremendous instability. 

“I’d be scared to death,” Belmont Village CEO Patricia Will told SHN in July 2021, referring to providers with low staff vaccination rates.

The post With Federal Rules Released, Lagging Senior Living Providers Must Mandate Staff Vaccination appeared first on Senior Housing News.

Source: For the full article please visit Senior Housing News

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