ITHACA, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — One week after the state’s requirement that every nursing home worker is vaccinated went into effect, state health data lists 115 facilities with 100% vaccine participation.
As of last week, only six of those facilities were the first to hit the 100% rate including Kendal at Ithaca. The nursing home is also one of only 13 facilities of its kind statewide that have 100% of both staff and residents vaccinated.
The facility welcomes people as young as 65 into its retirement cottages, and serves them as they age with higher levels of care, up to the highest level of skilled nursing.
All 340 residents got vaccinated without much, if any, hesitation.
When asked how it was achieved that every resident got vaccinated, 78-year-old Fair Gouldin, who lives in the complex’s cottages, said, “Why we wouldn’t we? We’re all of an age. I don’t think they had trouble talking residents into it.”
She and her fellow residents at Kendal at Ithaca were convinced, and were also convincing to staff. The elected residents’ association voted to formally ask every staff member to get vaccinated.
The facility’s executive director, Laurie Mante, said, “When the residents here speak to staff, we really listen and it was powerful.”
Most workers got their shots as soon as they were available, but that wasn’t enough when the Delta variant of the virus forced its way into the building this summer.
“It meant no visitors could come into the health center, said Mante. “Activities were stopping and we just felt with everything we knew about the science, we couldn’t continue to not require the vaccine.”
After having open conversations with staff members about a campus vaccine mandate in June, the executive director decided it was time in early August.
She’s said 10 people left the organization, but that meant that when the state’s vaccine deadline for healthcare workers went into effect last week, the organization was at 100% vaccinated.
Mante said, “I think the vaccine is doing more than we hoped it would do. It’s preventing serious illness and all the data points you look at: who’s in the hospital, who’s in the ICU, who’s intubated, this latest round is an escalation of unvaccinated.”