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See the disparity in vaccination rates between nursing home staff and residents

At A. Holly Patterson in Uniondale, just 35.3%

At A. Holly Patterson in Uniondale, just 35.3% of staff have received at least one dose of the vaccine, compared with 81.4% of residents as of April 23, 2021. Credit: Howard Schnapp

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Many staff members at Long Island’s nursing homes aren’t vaccinated, according to state data provided to The Point regarding 77 facilities in Nassau and Suffolk counties. In 45 of them, less than half of the staff has been fully vaccinated. In 35 facilities, less than half of the staff has received at least one shot.

The range between the facilities is stunning. In one, Excel at Woodbury for Rehabilitation and Nursing, LLC, only 20% of staff has been fully immunized. By contrast, at Oceanside Care Center, 87.2% of staff has received a complete vaccination – the only facility to surpass the 80% threshold. Only eight nursing homes have more than 60% of their staffs fully vaccinated.

The homes are doing far better when it comes to vaccinating residents. Just seven of the 77 facilities reported that less than 50% of residents have been completely vaccinated, and none of them have less than 50% of residents with at least one shot. The majority of facilities have full-vaccination residents approaching or higher than 80%.

The disparities in vaccinating staff and residents are, at times, massive. At A. Holly Patterson in Uniondale, for instance, just 35.3% of staff have received at least one dose of the vaccine, compared with 81.4% of residents. At Quantum Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Middle Island, 35% of staff have received at least one dose, while 96.8% of residents have.

Perhaps surprisingly, none of the 77 facilities have more than 90% of their residents fully vaccinated, although 19 of them do have more than 90% with at least one shot. That may be in part because nursing homes, especially those with rehab components, aren’t home only to the elderly. So it’s possible that some residents only became eligible for the vaccine more recently.

One of the homes coming close to a fully-vaccinated facility is Good Samaritan Nursing and Rehabilitation Care Center in Sayville. There, 100% of residents have received at least one shot, with 89.4% fully vaccinated. And 77.8% of staff have had at least one shot, while 75.8% of them are fully vaccinated.

To be sure, the facility is a relatively smaller one – with just 100 beds, 66% of which are full right now, and about 153 staff members. But administrator Joseph Costa told The Point that facility leaders have made a specific effort to encourage vaccination.

"We’ve been really trying to educate them as much as possible about the vaccine and how it is safe," Costa said. "We did our best and we continue to try to get those last stragglers who are on the fence or declined."

Costa said he is also emphasizing the importance of avoiding additional COVID-19 cases inside the facility, which would lead to visitor shutdowns.

And an incentive didn’t hurt. The facility entered every staff member who was vaccinated into a raffle for gift cards to spots like Dunkin’ Donuts and Outback Steakhouse.

Perhaps it’s time to bottle Good Samaritan’s success story, and have every other facility copy it.

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