Low staff vaccination rate likely caused outbreak at Florence care facility

While the parent company reports 36% of staff are fully vaccinated, Lane County health officials say only 5% are.

Posted: Jul 19, 2021 6:52 PM

FLORENCE, Or. -- A long-term care facility in Florence that's experiencing a major COVID-19 outbreak has released its vaccination data for both residents and staff.

The parent company for Spruce Point Assisted Living and Memory Care, Nightingale Healthcare, claims 87% of the facility's residents and 36% of it's staff members are fully vaccinated. However, Lane County Public Health maintains the percentage of staff members vaccinated at the facility is 5%.

“Our team is providing excellent care to all of our residents,” said Billie Wingfield, Senior Executive Director at Spruce Point. “We are working in close collaboration with Lane County Public Health and following all state and county guidelines for protocols, procedures, and counter-measures.”

A total of 19 residents and six staff members have tested positive for the virus. Lane County Public Health said the spread is likely due to the low vaccination rate among the staff members.

RELATED: COVID-19 OUTBREAK AT FLORENCE MEMORY CARE FACILITY CAUSES CONCERN

The most recent reported statewide vaccination rate for long-term care facility staff is 62%. That number was released by the Oregon Health Authority on May 9. 

According to a press release, the Florence facility is encouraging all of its staff members and residents to get vaccinated. However, under Oregon law, a mandate is not a possibility: ORS.413.416 states employers are not allowed to mandate immunizations for health care workers.

Family member Donna Wiser said she and her cousin Donnie are both fully vaccinated. She said they both attempted to visit her uncle who lived at the facility, but they were not allowed inside due to the active outbreak.

"We know my uncle was on end-of-life and so we knew he couldn't go out and sit down that long, and Donnie said the same thing. He sat out there with him, but you know, he got tired," Wiser said.

She said another relative has been allowed to move in and out of the facility as she pleases after presenting a negative COVID-19 test. Sadly, Wiser's uncle died Monday morning.

"End-of-life people that are on hospice, you're supposed to be able to go in and see them, no matter what," Wiser said.

The Oregon Department of Human Services released guidance during the pandemic excluding visitors to these facilities except for a small list of "essential individuals." That list includes "friends or family members visiting during end-of-life stages."

Lane County Public Health deployed a vaccination team to the facility Monday to offer shots to unvaccinated residents and staff members.

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