Unvaccinated Medicalodges employees suspended

SOUTHEAST KANSAS–Nursing home shortages are impacting a local facility.

The American Health Care Association says it’s a problem for almost half of nursing homes in the country due to vaccine requirements.

On August 18th, President Biden announced that his administration will require all nursing home staff to vaccinate against Covid-19.

Following this announcement, Medicalodges announced almost a week later that employees providing services directly to residents must be fully vaccinated.

For employees who aren’t like Michael Kloer, they’re now being suspended.

“It’s a two-week suspension, without pay. due to the fact that I did not get that vaccine by the required date of September seventeenth,” Kloer said.

And Kloer isn’t the only employee who’s been suspended, those unvaccinated can no longer enter the building, meaning less staff to take care of residents.

Medicalodges was already facing a workforce shortage, due to the conditions workers faced during the pandemic.

 In a statement from the nursing home, they tell us that they did establish a timeline for employees to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19.  

“On August 18, 2021, President Biden announced that nursing homes must vaccinate their staff against COVID-19. In an announcement on August 24, 2021, Medicalodges did establish a timeline for employees, contractors, and vendors who provide services directly to residents/clients to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. While a few employees decided to leave their employment, Medicalodges Girard was challenged to attract and hire employees well before the vaccination requirement. The ongoing experience of individuals who work in nursing homes, and in healthcare in general, throughout this COVID pandemic has had its impact on a workforce willing to continue working in these settings. We are especially grateful for our employees at Medicalodges Girard and Medicalodges Frontenac, as well as at all our locations. They have demonstrated our mission to serve and enhance the lives of others with caring hands and our duty as health care providers to protect as much as possible those in our care. Being vaccinated is the best weapon we have against COVID. While a few employees decided to leave their employment, Medicalodges Girard was challenged to attract and hire employees well before the vaccination requirement.”

-Shannon Lager, Medialodges Vice President & Chief Operations Officer

But unvaccinated employees on leave say they believe the requirement has an impact on the shortage, and ultimately the care of their residents.

“It will not only have an effect on the residents that are being cared for, it also is the stress of the people that have had the covid shot that are still working there because they’re going to have to work longer hours, they’re going to work with a shortage of nurses,  CNA’s, even housekeeping,” said Teresa Andrews, another former employee.

Kloer said he was fine with wearing extra protection as an option to remain unvaccinated,

“There was a big push for the vaccine to begin with…you get the vaccine, you don’t have to wear full PPE, if you don’t get the vaccine, we’re gonna make you wear the full PPE.”

But now that option is gone. and with nursing homes across the country already facing staffing shortages, this requirement could make things harder.