Abbotsford nursing home fears staff loss with mandatory vaccines


The CEO of an Abbotsford elderly care complex fears a loss of staff unless provincial health officials also quickly enforce mandatory vaccination for hospital staff and community health workers.

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Menno Place is bracing for staffing issues on October 12, when all workers in Abbotsford’s large elderly community will need to be vaccinated in order to work.


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Some 675 employees work in the sprawling seniors complex, which includes 700 long-term care and independent and assisted living residents in six buildings. With the announcement of mandatory vaccination of provincial staff for those working in senior care a month ago, CEO Karen Biggs is worried how much of her staff will be lost.

Hospital staff and health workers who work in the community are not required to be immune to COVID, and she fears losing 5-10% of her staff in acute care or community care facilities , like at home. caregivers.

“We are all extremely worried,” Biggs said. “My staff are literally across the road from the Abbotsford Regional Hospital and the Cancer Center, and they can just walk over there and find a job. We are like sitting ducks. I lose one of my best (kitchen workers).


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In weekly calls with Department of Health officials and public health officials, “we talk to Bonnie Henry and we say come on, that’s not fair. We are desperately trying to tell them that you have to apply it (compulsory vaccination) at all levels.

The BC Care Providers Association, an industry group that represents care home operators across the province, says it has heard similar concerns from its members and estimates there will be a 10 percent loss of staff in the province. sector because of the compulsory vaccine.

“We see people moving out of long-term care to work in acute care (in hospitals),” Association CEO Terry Lake said.

Provincial health officials said last week they were working on a plan to ensure all health care workers are vaccinated.


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Biggs said policy changes sparked by hundreds of deaths in long-term care homes during the onset of COVID that banned healthcare workers from working in more than one facility caused staff shortages.

“We lost 39 casuals when the single site rules came in,” she said. And the facility was hit by a recent epidemic, which sent 14 staff, all doubly vaccinated, home sick.

“We have had a horrible summer and the fall is going to be worse,” she said. “We are not unique. It’s happening everywhere. “

Terry Lake, CEO of the BC Care Providers Association, which estimates the loss of staff in the sector at 10% due to the mandatory vaccine.
Terry Lake, CEO of the BC Care Providers Association, which estimates the loss of staff in the sector at 10% due to the mandatory vaccine. Photo by PNG files

Biggs also said she didn’t know what would happen when the staff vaccination deadline rolled around.

“(The provincial order of health) is not saying what will happen,” she said. “We don’t know if they are fired or if they are suspended.”


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She expects the workers’ union to fight to save their jobs through grievances or that there may be human rights protesters.

“I think it’s going to be a legal nightmare… with years of wrangling,” she said.

Wednesday was the deadline for care homes to submit a staff list showing what percentage is vaccinated and Biggs said the process was hampered by computer glitches.

The digital portal became available and when Menno Place submitted the list it came back with 300 errors, including messages that the names did not match because the province only had the employee’s initials and the list of the house used the full name.

“All of the admins we spoke to had the same problem (uploading data),” she said.

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Lake said “technical issues” were widespread and a number of operators missed Wednesday’s deadline.


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He called on the health ministry to use the data already collected through vaccine passports, rather than having households create systems for collecting and submitting data at a very high time and cost.

He said he had also asked the province to sign an order requiring all new hires in the health sector to be double vaccinated, which would eliminate part of the problem of staff migration to hospitals.

Menno Place has a 95% vaccination rate, Biggs said. But she is uncertain of the accuracy of the percentage because it is based on self-reporting.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Health was unable to answer questions in time.

The Hospital Employees Union, which represents long-term care home workers, did not return requests for comment.

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