The workers at 22 assisted-living communities run by a company called Silverado help people with receding memory — dementia or other waning. Even before coronavirus vaccines were available, company leaders last fall waged a wrenching internal debate: How could they ensure their staff would get shots to protect themselves and the exquisitely vulnerable residents in their care?
Silverado medical directors and nurses, human resource specialists and lawyers teased out the pros and cons of a mandate. Initially, they rejected that idea in favor of long, frequent webinars urging the shots and on-site vaccination clinics starting the first week of January at the company’s Austin, Dallas and Houston facilities.
Then, Silverado pivoted. When the first round of vaccination clinics companywide ended, no site had more than about 80 percent of the staff immunized, and a few were at barely half. The pandemic’s winter surge, meanwhile, brought frightening coronavirus variants into a half-dozen California facilities. On March 1, Silverado, with 1,340 memory-care workers and 1,100 cognitively impaired people in locations from Los Angeles to Alexandria, Va., became the nation’s first long-term care company to require that employees have at least an appointment for a shot as a condition of their job.