Fredericton nursing home makes vaccines mandatory for new employees
Since reopening, Fredericton’s York Care Centre is averaging 65 visitors a day, but administrators are still trying to find ways to keep COVID-19 out.
CEO Tony Weeks says one step is to ensure as many staff, residents and visitors as possible are vaccinated.
"We were one of the first organizations, if not the first in the province, to implement mandatory proof of vaccination for all new employees and, so, we want to maintain our 94 per cent rate that we have," said Weeks.
"Right now, we’re exploring how do we do the same thing with new admissions coming through our organization?"
Weeks says the vaccination rate among residents is about 98 per cent, with just six residents choosing not to get vaccinated for a variety of reasons. They’re also working on navigating how to deal with unvaccinated visitors.
"If you’re a visitor who chooses not to be vaccinated and want to come in and visit a resident who chooses not to be vaccinated, that’s a concern for us," he said.
"Because as an organization we’re charged with the care and protection of people’s loved ones and we take that very seriously."
Seniors’ advocate Cecile Cassista applauds York Care's approach.
"I’ve heard from family members that they want that home that their loved one is in, that they want everyone there to be vaccinated," she said.
According to the department of social development, 12 long-term care homes in New Brunswick have less than 50 per cent vaccinated staff members.
As of July 29, 80.4 per cent of all long-term care staff across the province has at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The province has provided long-term care homes guidance to navigate the Green phase of recovery.
It asks that staff maintain wearing masks in resident and common areas, or "any situation or area where staff many interact or come in contact with a resident," it reads.
The document also asks that each facility have a visitation policy, which encourages visitors to "get vaccinated against COVID and other communicable diseases in a nondiscriminatory manner using evidence-based and culturally sensitive means."
Weeks says the centre is trying to prepare for what the fall could bring. But they are planning a grand reopening celebration for residents later in August, with many COVID-19 precautions in place.