Becker County veterinarian in Vietnam wants home health workers vaccinated

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In fact, he’s so convinced of it that he parted ways with two home health workers from two different organizations within a matter of months – one he had known and loved for over a decade.

Zettervall, who lives about a mile east of Toad Lake in Becker County, said the most painful loss was the Essentia health worker who had worked with him at his home for about 13 years, since 2007.

“I give Essentia high marks, especially the supervisors, I have worked with them for years now. The people who run Essentia do a good job. he said in an interview. “But I lost a nurse that I had for a long time.

He assumed that as a health worker she would be vaccinated, but found out during an informal conversation that she was not and did not intend to be vaccinated against COVID-19 , did he declare.

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Zettervall grew up in New Hope and left high school to join the Marine Corps in 1967. He spent 13 months fighting in Vietnam. “All the services were there for a year, but the Marines spent 13 months there, because the Marines always go further,” he said with a wry smile.

He had heart attacks at age 39 and 57, had pneumonia three times and his breathing is compromised, along with other combat-related medical issues. That is why he was getting home health services under contract with the Department of Veterans Affairs.

After parting ways with Essentia’s home health worker, he decided to switch providers to Knute Nelson Home Care in Park Rapids. After receiving services for two or three months earlier this year, he found that his new home health worker was also not vaccinated against COVID-19.

“It was not a real amicable breakup,” he said. But he figured it wouldn’t be a big deal. “I complimented the service and asked for someone to be vaccinated,” he said. “I was told ‘we don’t have the right to ask – we don’t know who is vaccinated and who is not. (The laws on medical confidentiality) will not let us do this. ‘”

He said he was worried and lobbied for a home health care worker who was vaccinated. “They just fired me,” he said.

Zettervall, who said he currently does not have a home health care provider, was particularly upset because his home health care services were contracted and paid for by Veterans Affairs, and all VA medical staff. must now be vaccinated.

“The home care provider told me that maybe it was VA’s policy, but it’s not mine,” he said. “Nobody wants to talk about it because it violates the rights of nurses. Who takes care of the store? I feel like I am expendable.

Neither the VA nor Optum (the third party administrator of VA community care) require network providers or providers to be vaccinated, according to Ross Tweten, public affairs manager for the Fargo VA health care system.

Regarding VA vaccination policies, he said VA Secretary Denis McDonough has made COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for Title 38 employees (which include doctors, dentists, chiropodists, optometrists, registered nurses, medical assistants, extended function dental assistants and chiropractors), Title 38 hybrid employees, Title 5 employees (which include program analysts, police officers, human resources specialists and assistants program support) as well as volunteers, interns and contractors who serve as health professionals in Virginia

“Broadly speaking, these groups include all VA health personnel who work or visit Veterans Health Administration facilities and who may be exposed directly or indirectly to patients or infectious material,” Tweton said in an email. “Only medical and religious exemptions are allowed. All VA employees can be vaccinated at no personal cost at any of our facilities. “

Essentia Health now requires all of its employees, including those in its home health department, to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of employment, according to Tara Ekren, media relations specialist at Essentia.

“The requirement also extends to non-employees who provide services at Essentia’s facilities, such as vendors, students and others,” she added.

Knute Nelson Home Care in Park Rapids does not require its employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19, said Samantha Beckman, vice president of marketing at Knute Nelson, which serves much of western Minnesota.

“Currently, CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) does not mandate vaccines for home care providers, so we don’t need vaccines with our home care providers,” she said. .

“It’s really difficult for everyone right now,” she said. “We certainly don’t want to endanger anyone.”

If the CMS changes its policy, “we will assess it at that time,” she added.

On the other hand, Ethos Home Care and Hospice, which was created in part by the Knute Nelson organization, now requires vaccines for its home care and hospice workers who serve patients and clients in Detroit Lakes, Fargo-Moorhead and Grand Forks.

“As cases of COVID-19 spread throughout the United States and the communities we serve, we want to remain diligent in our efforts to protect our team and those served by Ethos,” said Cassie Zielke, administrator of Ethos Home Care and Hospice. “The vaccine, among a range of other safety precautions, gives us the best opportunity to do this.”

Ethos staff and volunteers should receive their second dose of vaccine by October 1. All employees and volunteers can be vaccinated at no personal cost.

Currently 87% of Ethos employees have received the COVID-19 vaccine. Ethos says he is “proud of these employees to have chosen to protect themselves and those around them”.

Ethos was established in 2014 by Bethany Retirement Living from Fargo, Eventide Senior Living Communities from Moorhead and Knute Nelson from Alexandria.

The American Medical Association, the American Health Care Association, LeadingAge and many other groups have come together to urge all employers in the healthcare industry to demand that employees be vaccinated against COVID-19.


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