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Greensboro retirement facility shares insight on nationwide requirement to vaccinate nursing home workers

The Biden Administration's new rule threatened to pull federal funding from homes that fail to vaccinate workers.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — President Biden announced nursing facility staff nationwide will soon be required to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Some Triad nursing homes and retirement communities are already a step ahead.

Arbor Acres Life Plan Community in Winston-Salem told us earlier this month it would require the vaccine for its workers.

Well-Spring Life Plan Community started requiring vaccinations for staff at the end of July. 

CEO Steve Fleming said they tried other incentives first, but with a quarter of his staff not vaccinated, they had to try a vaccine mandate.

"I’m very pleased. We are seeing some of the folks that were on the fence - it did help push them over the side to get the vaccine," Fleming said.

Like many, the facility began vaccinating its residents and staff in January. He said there have been vast improvements since then. 

"Maybe it's our 100% vaccination here, but we've been unscathed since April as far as our residents," Fleming said. "In our retirement community, we’ve basically been business as usual with quite a few activities. We had a singer here last night at our theater. So, lots of things are going on in the retirement community that weren't able to go on a year ago." 

He said about 75 percent of his staff got their vaccines months ago, but about a quarter held off. It has affected residents, at times.

"Here recently, we've had some team members test positive," Fleming said. "So when that happens, you have to circle the wagons again, and you have to shut down some of the activities and especially in the healthcare areas." 

The new steps at the federal level will make more nursing facilities vaccinate their staff. President Biden announced they can lose Medicaid and Medicare funding if workers do not get the shot.

Fleming said Well-Spring does not use those Federal funds but their sister community in Burlington, Village at Brookwood, does.

"This is a very important funding for skilled nursing facilities across the country. Most would not survive without the funding," Fleming said.

Well-Spring will give its employees until October to get vaccinated.

The Federal mandate could take effect as soon as next month.