Achieve Full Staff Immunization Through Leadership, Culture and Longevity – Guest Columns


Kathleen o’connor

It was around the time Pfizer first submitted its first information about vaccine trials to federal officials that Mary Saleh, LSW, administrator of Alden Lincoln Park in Chicago, began talking about the vaccine with her staff. From those initial conversations, Mary noticed that the staff at the post-acute care facility were very excited about the upcoming vaccine, while others were clearly anxious or unsure about the vaccine.

Before the vaccine became available, staff at Alden Lincoln Park in Chicago were asked to comment on whether they planned to accept or decline the vaccine. In case of refusal, employees were asked to provide the reason. Mary and her team set out to have one-on-one, one-on-one discussions with employees to provide education, dispel myths, and simply offer a listening ear.

The reasons given for the reluctance to vaccinate varied widely, ranging from concerns that there might be different vaccines for blacks and brunettes than those given to whites, to concerns that the vaccine might cause infertility, as well as concerns about having to pay out-of-pocket for the vaccine. The majority of staff were concerned that the vaccine was too recent, that there had not been enough research, and that unknown long-term effects could occur.

A new perspective emerged when the daughter of a resident of Alden Lincoln Park in Chicago shared her experience working as a scientist on mRNA vaccine research in the 1980s. She then provided information on how it works. vaccine and the decades of research that preceded the development of COVID-19 vaccines, which the organization incorporated into its vaccine education materials.

Give the example

Mary was offered the opportunity to get vaccinated approximately two weeks before the first on-site vaccination clinic in Alden Lincoln Park. She received her first dose of the vaccine and has widely shared the story of her experience with her staff. This strong leadership movement set a positive tone for the start of the Alden Lincoln Park vaccination trip.

One by one, after addressing their individual concerns in a conversation and also after seeing their coworkers receive the vaccine without side effects, additional staff signed up to receive the vaccine. From early January to mid-March, Alden Lincoln Park offered three on-site clinics in which 85% of staff were vaccinated.

According to CMS data, as of October 3, 2021, the national percentage of staff vaccinated by long-term organization facility is 69.2%, which is fairly consistent with Illinois’ rate of 69.78%. . In an ongoing display of demonstrated leadership strength, Mary aimed for a 100% goal. She aggressively pursued full staff compliance with vaccines, given the virus’ devastating impact on residents, staff, families and the community.

The bottom 15% of the staff were difficult to convince.

In Mary’s words, “It was a daily effort on the part of many people and an unremitting effort for months.”

The pressure is building

Frontline staff who championed the vaccine discussed its benefits in peer-to-peer conversations, which were found to be very effective. If the staff said to Mary, “I already missed all the clinics” or “I don’t know where to go for one now,” Mary would pick up her phone and make an appointment for the employee at a nearby CVS or Walgreens. at a time and place convenient for the employee.

She was following up on a constant basis to make sure the employee was on schedule and checking how he felt after being vaccinated. Ultimately, it was an employee who had not been vaccinated.

When President Joe Biden announced that vaccinations would be mandatory for healthcare workers, including those in long-term care, Mary approached the employee to ask if she had heard the news. The employee asked, “What does this mean to me? Mary informed her that when the vaccination mandate went into effect, she would no longer be able to work on it. The clerk said, “OK, sign me up. ”

Alden Lincoln Park in Chicago is a very special place. The average length of employment among current staff is eight years, which far exceeds industry averages. Mary worked at Alden Lincoln Park for eight years, and during this time, established relationships of trust with her staff. With the organizational culture being a family atmosphere, the staff were already accustomed to working together on collaborative goals. The longevity of Mary’s leadership tenure certainly contributed to her ability to have compelling one-to-one conversations about the vaccine with her staff.

The greatest legacy of success in achieving a 100% staff immunization rate is certainly and will continue to be the immense comfort this news brings to residents, families and staff. They know the level of commitment that the Alden Lincoln Park team has deployed to accomplish this important milestone. They also know that this team has worked together to do everything in their power to limit the risk of COVID-19 in their community.

Kathleen O’Connor is President and Founder of Achieve Accreditation, which works with Alden Lincoln Park.

Opinions expressed in McKnight Long Term Care News guest submissions are those of the author and not necessarily those of McKnight Long Term Care News or its publishers.


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