man rolling up sleeve, nurse preparing shot

ArchCare, which operates three PACE centers in the New York City metro area, is mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for all 5,000 of its employees. On Thursday, the Archdiocese of New York healthcare program said employees have until Oct. 1 to complete their second dose.

Scott LaRue, ArchCare

“Our chief concern is the health and well-being of our vulnerable community of elders who we serve in our homes and programs,” ArchCare President and CEO Scott LaRue said.  “It is critically important for our entire staff to be vaccinated. As the first provider of post-acute and elder care in New York to implement a vaccination mandate, we hope to encourage more of our neighbor organizations to do the same.”

LaRue said approximately 85% of ArchCare staff have been vaccinated. While ArchCare had gone a few months without any employees being infected by the virus, LaRue said some are now testing positive for it.

“(That) is typically a harbinger of future infections among residents,” La Rue added. “Our system has significantly invested in technology, staff and training to position ourselves as the leader in infection control and prevention in the post-acute environment. As healthcare workers, we are also ethically and professionally obligated to prevent spreading COVID-19 to our residents and participants, and to each other.”

While numerous medical associations and senior services organizations have called for mandatory vaccines for healthcare and personal care workers, the home care industry has been reluctant to do so. The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) and the Home Care Association of America (HCAOA) urge workers to get vaccinated, but both groups say it should be up to employers to decide if they want to mandate vaccinations.

At the NAHC’s Financial Management Conference in Chicago last week, NAHC Bill Dombi expressed concern that less than 50% of home care workers have gotten COVID-10 shots.

Outside pressure is mounting on the industry to require vaccinations for home care and home healthcare workers. On Thursday, the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW), which represents 15,000 healthcare workers nationwide, praised California Gov. Gavin Newsome (D) for mandating that all California healthcare workers get the COVID-19 vaccine by Sept. 30.

“While this order will not be embraced by all of our members, it will save lives and protect the health of healthcare workers and patients enduring another COVID-19 surge that is being spread primarily by unvaccinated people,” NUHW President Sal Rosselli said in a statement.

Some home care firms have told McKnight’s Home Care Daily they are reluctant to mandate the shots, fearing they could lose workers in a very tight labor market.