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McLean County Nursing Home Staff Get Paid To Get COVID Vaccine

 The McLean County Nursing Home in Normal received a grant to offer COVID mitigation pay to vaccinated staff.
Eric Stock
The McLean County Nursing Home in Normal received a grant to offer COVID mitigation pay to vaccinated staff.
Updated: September 22, 2021 at 12:23 PM CDT
McLean County interim administrator Cassy Taylor said staff at the county-run nursing home in Normal will receive bonuses of between $500 and $1,000 for getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

McLean County government wants to provide a financial incentive to staff at the county-run nursing home to get the COVID vaccine. Nearly 40% of staff at the McLean County Nursing Home in Normal have not been vaccinated.

The county plans to expand the state-funded incentive program to other departments in county government.

The County Board on Thursday approved accepting a $113,000 grant from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) for “COVID mitigation pay” to nursing home staff who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

“Anytime you are trying to drive a change in staff behavior, you really want to look at what is keeping them from that change, but also what would incentivize them and so we felt (with) the carrot and stick (approach), this was a great way to give a carrot,” McLean County interim administrator Cassy Taylor said.

IDPH reports on its COVID website that 61.5% of McLean County Nursing Home staff and 84.2% of residents were fully vaccinated as of Friday.

Taylor said the county determined the bonuses will range between $500 and $1,000 based on the worker's job status. Full-time workers will get the biggest bonuses, while employees who work as needed will get less.

Taylor said the amounts are intended to be “significant enough” to motivate employees who are “sitting on the fence” about whether to get the vaccine.

Nursing homes have been among the facilities hardest hit by COVID-19 outbreaks, though coronavirus cases and deaths dropped sharply once long-term facility staff and residents started to get the vaccines last winter.

According to the IDPH website, seven residents of the McLean County Nursing Home have died of COVID-19. That conflicts with data IDPH reported in January. It indicated 11 residents had died of COVID. The nursing home administrator had disputed the state’s data.

Taylor said nursing home staff has received an explanation from IDPH on the new figures, but “the lower amount is more indicative of what they have been told by medical personnel.”

IDPH spokesperson Melaney Arnold said the agency’s long-term care facility data comes from the National Healthcare Safety Network and that facilities are required to report death data to the Centers for Disease Control.

The state grant stipulates the county must spend about $37,000 by the end of September. Taylor said the first employees who present proof of vaccination will receive the additional pay in their next paycheck.

Taylor said the county plans to broaden the incentive next to include frontline healthcare workers in county government as state funding becomes available.

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Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.
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