GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — “I was overjoyed.”
That was Shelby Hunt’s reaction after President Joe Biden announced Wednesday his administration will require all employees in long-term care facilities to get vaccinated for COVID-19 or have the facility risk losing federal funding.
It’s the latest effort to protect Americans as the delta variant spreads.
Hunt’s 90-year-old mother lives in assisted living.
“I can sleep at night knowing she’s protected from the outdoors, knowing she’s protected from the coronavirus. Knowing she will be well taken care of,” she said.
Under the plan, the government would withhold Medicare and Medicaid funding to nursing homes that fail to fully vaccinate their staff.
“Many of us care for Medicare-dependent residents, and with them not being able to come to us to get what they need. We would be lost, they would be lost too, where would they go?” said Barbara Woolard, director of Guilford House Assisted Living.
She said she dealt with a COVID outbreak in the facility last year and knows how detrimental it can be to the most venerable population.
“It’s not anything that anyone wants in their home,” she said.
Woolard says her staff is 100% vaccinated. A success she attributes to incentives, education, and leading by example.
“It’s all about presentation for myself. I wanted to be the first in my community to have it. Lead by example and then you ask your management team to join you. It all came together, and I’m sure it can come together for others if they choose to do it that way,” she said.
Staff at the long-term care facility are doing all they can to keep everyone safe. They never stopped temperature checks and strict sanitation standards for all residents and visitors.
Woolard says if nursing homes don’t comply, the cut of funding would be devastating to the industry.
“There’s no way you can survive, there’s absolutely no way,” she said.
She hopes this mandate will encourage employees at nursing homes who haven’t got the shot to get on board.
“We really need to fight, people. Let’s jump on board let’s get these shots, so we can continue to provide the care that we know we can for our residents,” she said.
FOX8 reached out to more than two dozen nursing homes in the area to see where they were with vaccination rates and deadlines for employees to get vaccinated. Calls were not immediately returned.