Florida Health Care Association, representing nearly 700 nursing homes and assisted living facilities across Florida, issued the following statement in response to the AARP COVID-19 Dashboard report on Florida cases.
“Florida’s nursing centers have put forth tremendous efforts to keep both their residents and staff safe since the beginning of the pandemic, and they continue to do so. They have maintained their infection control protocols, and staff are still wearing masks; are conducting regular testing and everyday screening before entry (including taking temperatures); and are able to mitigate spread through the use of COVID isolation wings. Facilities are better managing this virus and its impact on residents and staff, and the data is already showing a downward trend in cases. In the week of August 29, cases among residents and staff declined, and today, more than 98% of residents and staff in our facilities remain COVID-free.
Our centers are doing everything in their power to encourage staff to get vaccinated, including offering incentives, and staff vaccination rates are improving, if more slowly than we would prefer. Much of the hesitancy we’re seeing in staff is similar to what is seen in our communities, where a portion of the population remains hesitant to get vaccinated. We believe this situation will improve based on President Biden’s directive to make vaccinations a requirement among nursing center staff.
It’s easy for AARP and others to look on from afar – with no direct involvement in the day-to-day operations of a nursing center – and cast judgment. Perhaps instead of producing alarmist reports and reaching conclusions, they should try offering real-world solutions, such as initiatives that will help increase vaccination rates in our communities and encourage individuals to seek a career in long term care to help address our workforce shortages.”