A local organization is speaking out against the Biden administration's announcement to require nursing home staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The organization represents skilled nursing professionals and nursing home residents.
If facilities do not meet this requirement, they could risk losing federal Medicare and Medicaid funding, Biden said.
“If you work in a nursing home and serve people on Medicare and Medicaid, you'll also be required to get vaccinated,” Biden said.
Care Providers Oklahoma said nursing homes have been facing a number of challenges since the start of the pandemic and they fear requiring vaccines for their staff will only make matters worse.
They said requiring vaccinations might push nursing home staff out the door, and that could cause major problems as nursing homes continue to navigate staffing shortages.
“We walk into this with a workforce challenge of recruiting workers into the workforce and this would be a tipping point where many of those would choose to go to work elsewhere,” Steven Buck said.
Buck said if staff choose to leave, they might look into other elderly services for employment like Wellington Park.
Jim McWhirter with the retirement community said although the vaccine mandate doesn't include his business, he thinks they could be affected next.
Buck said he would love to see the vaccination rate increase amongst staff, but doesn't think a mandate is the answer.
“The proposed mandate only applies to nursing home staff members. It's like leaving the window up. You're still running the risk of the virus still coming into the building,” Buck said.
The mandate is expected to be put into effect as soon as next month.