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‘Progress’ reported with staff at WCA Home

OBSERVER File Photo Six employees at the WCA Home have said that Oct. 7 will be their last day at the facility.

There’s a bit more optimism this week when it comes to Fredonia’s WCA Home. The care facility, located on Temple Street in the village, sounded an alarm more than one week ago about the possibility of an exodus of staffing due to a New York state mandate requiring COVID vaccines for health-care workers.

Late last week, however, a note to families of residents currently at the facility indicated a brighter picture. “The wonderful news is that we have all but two employees (who have) agreed to be vaccinated,” said Marnie Ulkins, assistant administrator at WCA Home. “So we are feeling much better about Oct. 7.”

Earlier this month, the WCA Home was worried about losing one-third of its staff due to the state edict, which is being legally challenged.

This would have forced the Home to potentially discharge residents.

In the meantime, the search for new workers continues to be a struggle. Ulkins noted the facility continues to search, with little luck, for applicants.

“The problem continues to be finding the right fit for our needs,” she wrote. “We need state certified aides for care staff and care staff is our main need right now. We need medication aides and they don’t have to be certified, but we need second and third shift (staff), which is hard to find, even with the shift differential.”

WCA Home is not alone in facing these challenges. Last week, nursing home facilities across the county spoke about concerns regarding the mandate on its workers.

Lisa Haglund, chief executive officer of Heritage Ministries, estimates between 70 and 100 unvaccinated workers at Heritage Ministries may end up quitting at locations across Chautauqua County before a state-imposed deadline. That’s about 10% of the workforce, she said, that offers rehabilitation, skilled nursing, assisted living and long-term care options at several facilities.

Ulkins noted that challenges remain while reassuring families of residents of its commitment to care. “So far, we are making some good progress,” she said. “We aren’t all the way there, but a definite headway has been made.”

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