Inside long-term care facilities that mandated vaccination

WCPO atria vaccine.jpeg
Posted at 6:36 PM, Aug 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-04 13:00:40-04

On Monday, Gov. Andy Beshear laid out new rules for workers at state-run health care facilities in Kentucky: Wear your mask and get tested for COVID-19 twice a week if you’re not vaccinated.

Many of the state’s long-term care facilities, including the Victorian at Riverside in Covington, have already made the vaccine a requirement. More than 90% of the Victorian’s staff has both doses of the vaccine, and the few that don’t are tested weekly.

“We’ve decided to make it once a week that everyone is tested, and then we get the negative results,” said CEO Carrie Vanderzee. “That’s a condition for employment here.”

It was an early choice, and Vanderzee is proud of it. The Victorian specifically houses and helps senior women. None of them have gotten COVID-19, Vanderzee said.

“We’re not first responders and we’re not in hospitals, but we are taking care of a really vulnerable population every day,” she said. “And, you know, to do it well and do it right, it takes a lot of sacrifice from employees.”

Leaders Atria Highland Crossing, another assisted-living facility in Covington, made the same choice in January. All employees must be vaccinated.

“It wasn’t easy, you know,” said Elise Sebastian, executive director of the facility. “There was a lot of education that had to take place. I met personally with dozens and dozens of folks, whether it be family or staff, and made sure they have the most updated information from the CDC, that they understood the policies Atria put in place to maintain safety.”

Every single one of Atria’s staff members has the vaccine or is scheduled to receive it.

It’s a move right in line with Gov. Beshear’s new requirements for state employees.

"I support those moves that I am seeing,” he said when announcing the new rules. “Let's keep working. Let's keep pushing. Let's finish this. We have done so well. Let's finish strong.”