The recent surge of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 has significantly impacted our daily lives here at Epworth and around the world. We thought now would be a good time to provide an update on where we stand.
On January 13th, the Supreme Court upheld the CMS COVID vaccine mandate for all health care workers serving in organizations receiving Medicare or Medicaid funding. What does this mean for Epworth? Epworth receives Medicare funding, so this means that all our staff will need to be vaccinated for COVID or have a legal exemption. We have nearly 80% of our staff vaccinated already, so we are well on our way to meeting this requirement. As of the writing of this update, CMS has not issued the exact deadline for compliance, but we will update this post when that information is available.
Ever since the Omicron variant became the dominant variant in Oklahoma, we have been experiencing a growing number of positive COVID cases. Since December 23rd, we have had 14 residents test positive for COVID in our health services and assisted living levels of care. We are not aware of any independent living residents who have tested positive. In that same time frame, we have had 46 COVID cases among our staff.
Sadly, early in this Omicron surge, a skilled nursing resident who was receiving hospice services contracted COVID and passed away. Since then, we have been thankful that no other serious illness has been caused by COVID among our COVID-positive staff and residents.
Epworth has not been immune to the staffing challenges caused by this recent surge in the Omicron variant of COVID-19. In this stage of the surge, we are experiencing almost 10% staff absence for COVID-related issues. Some have the virus, while others are out due to childcare issues.
We have continued our protocols for mitigating the risk of COVID. All employees and guests are screened each day before entering the campus. We continue with weekly testing for staff and residents according to the CMS guidelines. Visitation remains in place, but we do ask that visitors abide by our protocols and are especially sure to stay away if they are experiencing any COVID-like symptoms. We have also suspended larger activities and gatherings to mitigate the risk of COVID. Mask wearing is required for all staff and visitors and highly recommended for all residents. The healthcare staff are properly supplied with N-95 masks and other PPE. We are doing our best to keep the KN-95 masks, which are now in high demand, available to all our non-healthcare staff.
We appreciate the patience of our residents and the valiant efforts of our staff to continue this battle that is about to reach the two-year mark. All our Epworth family has been amazing.
Please keep those who are recovering from the virus in your thoughts and prayers.