DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are struggling as more staff members are exposed to COVID-19 or test positive.
Lisa Hamilton is the administrator for Grafton Oaks Nursing Center in Dayton.
“We’re sort of holding on, waiting to see what every single day will bring. We have definitely probably weathered it better than most, but I don’t know how long it will hold out,” Hamilton said.
Although all of her residents and staff members are vaccinated, she is still dealing with staffing shortages during this recent surge of the omicron variant. Because of this, the nursing facility is stretched thin.
“It’s all hands on deck situation, again. We had a little bit of a lull there for a while, but it’s right back to every single one of us, whether it’s weekends, nights, third shift. It doesn’t matter what your job title is anymore, you’re helping to take care of residents 24/7,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton also had to pause admissions to ensure she can provide adequate care.
“We haven’t had admissions in months, so our census continues to decrease because I won’t admit if I don’t have the staff to take care of more,” Hamilton said.
Grafton Oaks is not alone. According to Lawrence Wilkins with the Long Term Care Ombudsman Office in Dayton, nursing homes and assisted living facilities across the Miami Valley are battling this wave of omicron. While hospitalizations and deaths are low among residents, more staff are being exposed or testing positive. Wilkins said vaccination rates are also lower among staff members at some facilities.
“It makes it very challenging to keep staff, to keep a building fully staffed when you don’t have staff members who are fully vaccinated yet,” Wilkins said.
Wilkins said his office is trying to help these facilities find more staff.
“It really affects the residents’ quality of life which is why we are really trying to help nursing homes find those agencies to bring staff in or look to better ways to recruit within facilities themselves,” Wilkins said.
Dr. Zach Jenkins is an associate professor of pharmacy at Cedarville University. He said following protocols and having good hygiene remains crucial in these facilities.
“Being cognizant of what you touch and making sure you do wash your hands when you’re entering and exiting some of these different facilities, or even a loved one’s room, that would be wise,” Dr. Jenkins said.
While everyone adapts to the strain of this new surge, Hamilton is doing everything she can to keep her residents safe.
“Our residents are family, they’re family. Lots of them don’t have family, we’re their family. And we would never let them go uncared for. Never, no matter what it takes,” Hamilton said.