Focused Care Vaccine Mandate

You may have heard this expression – the tipping point.  Here is a definition of its meaning: the critical point in a situation, process, or system beyond which a significant and often unstoppable effect or change takes place

Most of us might immediately think of the pandemic and it certainly can be considered a tipping point in our world. But right now, I’m referring to a vaccination mandate for all who work in nursing homes soon to be implemented by the president of the United States.  And if that doesn’t create a tipping point, the penalty for not enforcing this mandate as a long term care provider is the withdrawal of Medicaid and Medicare federal funds – together of which comprise the majority of revenue for a skilled nursing care community and which without, we will struggle to operate.

All of you are aware there was a nationwide nursing shortage prior to the pandemic, the latter of which significantly deepened the deficit of qualified, compassionate nurses. Focused Care recognized this early on and as a company, we truly did everything we could to retain our exemplary nursing team members. We are on a mission in this company – we are family – and we want to stay together. We can’t afford to split up – there is too much at stake. How do we keep doing what we are here to do – take care of the most vulnerable?

I have encouraged those of us at Focused Care who are not vaccinated to inform and educate yourselves with credible, non-biased information.  Some sources for you to explore are websites for the Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins and the New England Journal of Medicine. I would caution against partisan news outlets (whether you agree philosophically or not) and social media as they have proven to be unreliable in the information they put out to the public.

Coincidental to the timing of the administration’s announcement, the Food and Drug Administration formally approved Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. The widely anticipated decision replaces the emergency use authorization granted by the agency last December.

The process of final approval, outlined by the FDA, requires an analysis of the vaccine’s benefits that also examines its risks and looks at clinical trials from the Pfizer. What wasn’t required for full approval were data on how people fared six months after being fully vaccinated. Now they have that data and the acting federal agency head says, “the public can be very confident that this vaccine meets the high standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality the FDA requires of an approved product.”

There is some anticipation that many non-vaccinated individuals were waiting for full approval of the vaccine by the FDA before they would get their shot in the arm. I don’t know where you fall in the mindset between “at some point” and “never” but the administration’s vaccination mandate is forcing your hand.

I continue to support your freedom of choice and regret that we find ourselves with continuous surges of new infections, more illness, more hospitalizations and more death due this virus. Something has to give to get us out of this.

Singling out the nursing home workforce for mandatory vaccines is ill-advised. Mandating vaccinations for health care workers across the sectors, including in hospice, home health and assisted living is a policy that avoids further hamstringing long term care providers in need of dedicated and qualified nurses and skilled nursing staff to provide patient-centered care for our seniors. As the policy is further detailed and implementation announced, Focused Care will thoroughly examine the regulations and keep you all apprised.

In the meantime, I encourage you to ask questions, contact me, do your research and assess the information you have. Please talk to those who have been vaccinated about responses they may have had after the shots and how they feel now.

This is one more tipping point in our long term care sector that we have to work through. Please let’s keep the family together.

Mark McKenzie

CEO & Founder