Missouri, Kansas lag behind in getting nursing home staff vaccinated


LEE’S SUMMIT, Mo. — A federal mandate could soon put long-term care facilities in a tight spot financially.

The Biden Administration will require all nursing home staff to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or federal funding is at stake.

“About 65% of our associates are fully vaccinated,” said Anthony Columbatto with John Knox Village.

But that won’t cut it for long once the new federal government issues its new vaccine requirement for nursing homes. If those facilities don’t get their staff vaccinated, they’ll lose Medicare and Medicaid funding.

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“It would put us in a really tough spot,” Columbatto said. “We do rely a lot on both Medicare dollars and Medicaid dollars.”

Even so, Columbatto said John Knox Village supports the president’s move. They offer staff the chance to get the shot on site every other week.

“We continue to emphasize the importance of getting vaccinated to our associates,” he said.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services show the national average of nursing home employees vaccinated sits at 61%.

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Missouri lags behind at 48%, the third worst in the nation. Kansas sits at 58% of nursing home staff fully vaccinated. Meanwhile, Hawaii’s vaccination rate for these health care workers is nearly 90%.

In Kansas, just two facilities in the entire state report that 100% of their staff are vaccinated, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. Only four facilities in the state have met or exceeded the 90% vaccination goal set by state leaders.

One of those 100% success stories is Infinity Park Post-Acute and Rehab Center in Overland Park.

Columbatto said he would like to see all health care workers be required to get the vaccine “because it does make it a challenge for us on the hiring and retention front when there are places that are not requiring it,” he said.

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As for the federal mandate, details like the deadline are still being worked out. It’s expected to be finalized and announced by mid-September.


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