Residence care staff don’t face vaccination necessities; Corporations in central Oregon may even see extra candidates

(Update: adding videos, comments from home care company)

“Vaccination is a personal choice and we encourage our caregivers to get vaccinated”

BEND, Ore (KTVZ) – Under an exemption from the Oregon Health Authority, workers for home care services are not required to be vaccinated.

In particular, the OHA has not expanded its vaccination mandate to include a person’s home unless the home is otherwise licensed, registered, or certified as an institution or home under the regulation.

As the healthcare industry desperately needs to fill many positions and find more applicants, this rule could affect their workforce challenges.

Patricia Lucas, administrator for Interim HealthCare in Central Oregon, said her family opened an office in 2020.

“We have a lot of wonderful caregivers and customers, but we’re turning off work probably three times more than we already have because of the need for home care in central Oregon,” Lucas said Tuesday.

Lucas said that unlike traditional jobs, they hire when they take on clients. Lucas said they currently have about 40 customers.

Karen Clark, director of Visiting Angels, said at the time that they will be bringing as many caregivers as possible.

“That’s why we’re hiring unvaccinated caregivers,” she said, but added, “We are strongly promoting the vaccine for all of our caregivers.”

Both Lucas and Clark said their hiring process doesn’t depend on whether someone is vaccinated or not. Rather, it is based on someone who is competent and shows love and compassion.

“Vaccination is a personal choice and we encourage our caregivers to get vaccinated. Most of them are,” said Lucas. “So we ask them when we interview them, but it’s up to them whether they are vaccinated or not.”

Clark said, “We have strict protocols for our caregivers, including Covid education, PEP, masks, gloves, whatever they need. So we protect our caregivers and our customers as best we can.”

When customers ask if their caregiver is vaccinated, Lucas says they’ll tell them. Clark said customers can always request vaccinated caregivers.

“Additionally, we will only be sending vaccinated caregivers to those communities for all of our customers in assisted living, independent care, and memory care communities,” said Clark.

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