Valley nursing homes managing COVID uptick with nationwide staffing shortage
According to the CDC, COVID transmission levels in Mahoning and Trumbull Counties remain high with Columbiana County not too far behind.
Nursing homes in the Mahoning Valley, once the epicenter of the pandemic locally have rebounded, but said the recent COVID uptick is putting the pressure back on.
"It's exhausting for the staff," Shepherd of the Valley CEO Rich Limongi said, "It's exhausting for the families. It's exhausting for residents."
Limongi said it was very calm for months before this uptick increased their cases by 6% for residents and workers, which is about 60 people within their four facilities.
"The last six months, things have been pretty quiet," he said, "We've had an occasional case here and there at the sites, but it seems like the last four to six weeks, we've seen a nice size uptick."
The nursing home is using its COVID isolation rooms and is required to implement more frequent testing since Mahoning and Trumbull Counties are in the red.
He said, fortunately, recent guidelines allow workers with COVID to return quicker than they could before, but just like hospitals and businesses all around, nursing homes continue to deal with the staffing shortage.
Shepherd of the Valley said they've found ways to retain more workers by offering more benefits and paying them more. Limongi reports their staffing numbers are up, even more than pre-pandemic.
"We looked at all of our current wage structures," he said, "We had an outside organization that looked at our compensation plan, and we made some significant changes."
Nursing homes are also keeping quality of care under control by monitoring the ratio of residents to workers.
Shepherd of the Valley said they are currently taking in new residents.