Residents and Family Members:
The fight against COVID-19 is not over. As our country is once again experiencing an increase in coronavirus cases, we must rally together to protect each other. After almost a 4 month decline in COVID-19 cases here in South Dakota, we are now seeing the numbers quickly moving up again after the highly contagious Delta variant has hit our area. This is now impacting us at Dow Rummel with both vaccinated and unvaccinated people which has been the case across the U.S. as well. This surge in cases also raises concerns about the coming Fall and Winter as we also approach our influenza season.
Having COVID-19 does not automatically mean that people are immune to the virus. About 1 out of 10 people who recover from COVID-19 do not appear to develop adequate immunity, and the antibodies which protect people from getting COVID-19 tend to decrease faster among individuals who had asymptomatic or mild cases of COVID-19 infection.
Due to the recent COVID-19 surge and the availability of safe and effective vaccines, more than 50 health organizations and medical groups are advocating that all health care and long-term care employers require their workers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Their statement says “This is the logical fulfillment of the ethical commitment of all health care workers to put patients as well as residents of long-term care facilities first and take all steps necessary to ensure their health and well-being.” Last week President Biden announced that staff members at nursing homes will now be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or those facilities would risk losing their Medicare and Medicaid funding. Additionally, many senior-living providers are already mandating vaccines for their staff including Sanford Health, The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society, VA, Touchmark, Presbyterian Senior Living, Sunrise Senior Living, Episcopal Retirement Services, Jewish Home Family, Brookdale Senior Living, Aegis Living, Atria Senior Living, and Benchmark Senior Living to name a few.
We saw many residents and staff step up to receive the vaccine last winter as soon as it was available and with ongoing education to staff, we have seen our percentage of staff getting the vaccine continue to slowly increase to 75% of staff fully vaccinated at this time. Many of you (residents, family members and staff) have expressed a concern that we do not have all staff vaccinated. Our mission is that “Dow Rummel seeks to design and embrace a SAFE and caring social community for active seniors pursuing their fullest potential.” Staff vaccines are vital to the health and well-being of our residents and co-workers and makes for a safer living environment for our residents and safer workplace for our staff. Vaccines have proven to be safe and effective. The Pfizer vaccine is now fully FDA approved. While the other 2 vaccines are FDA EUA (Emergency use Authorization) approved. Therefore, mandating vaccines both for COVID-19 and seasonal influenza is the right thing to do for us at Dow Rummel.
This letter is to let you know that our Board of Trustees has approved a vaccine mandate for all employees and other healthcare workers at Dow Rummel for influenza and COVID-19. All employees and other healthcare workers working at Dow Rummel must be vaccinated for influenza and have received their 2nd Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or 1st Johnson & Johnson vaccine for COVID-19 by November 1, 2021 and receive any required ongoing influenza vaccines or COVID-19 booster vaccines. Our goal is to have all staff vaccinated, but our policy does allow for a process to be followed for health and religious exceptions to the vaccine mandate. While we understand the rationale for the mandate from HHS and CMS and do support it, frankly, we have no choice in the matter as we cannot do without the funding from those agencies.
The Board of Trustees and management of Dow Rummel are committed to our mission to provide a safe and caring community for our residents as well as for their family members and for our healthcare workers. While some people continue to have objections to receiving vaccines, we hope to retain all of our valuable healthcare workers.
If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Darla J Van Rosendale, CEO
Dow Rummel Village