Concerns continue to be raised about the accuracy of city data on staff vaccination levels in Hamilton seniors’ homes.
The supervisor at a retirement home with one of the lowest vaccination rates in the city said public health’s numbers were not accurate, and that no one originally contacted her for the data.
Genny Lee Genita, RPN and nursing supervisor at Heritage Green Retirement Home, was “surprised” when she saw the city’s numbers.
The small Stoney Creek home — located next to a long-term-care facility by the same name — was originally reported as having 26.5 per cent of staff vaccinated, the second-lowest among the city’s retirement facilities.
“I don’t know where they got that,” Genita says.
In March, public health released data for individual long-term-care and retirement homes in the city. While seniors’ home residents in both types of facilities had high vaccination levels at each home listed, staff uptake varied widely, according to the numbers.
In long-term care, staff rates ranged from 26.7 per cent all the way to 100 per cent. In retirement homes, they ran from 1.1 per cent to 83.3 per cent.
The numbers are an estimated “snapshot” as of March 8 based on data self-reported by the homes, public health says.
However, multiple sources have raised questions about their accuracy — and public health since changed the Stoney Creek retirement home’s numbers.
According to the original numbers, Heritage Green Retirement Home had the lowest percentage of staff vaccinations after Highgate Residence of Ancaster, which had 1.1 per cent. The administrator at Highgate previously told The Spectator the low rate was because public health originally failed to include the home in the “high-risk” category.
When it comes to residents, 93.3 per cent of those living at Heritage Green Retirement Home were reported vaccinated.
Genita said in a phone interview on March 29 that 10 out of 11 — or 90.9 per cent — of the home’s staff received their shots before March. For residents, the number was 16 out of 18, or 88.9 per cent, although Genita says after two residents died, that number is now 14 out of 16.
After The Spectator raised questions about the data, public health updated its numbers on March 31 to reflect Genita’s.
Public health says it “worked with local long-term-care homes and high-risk retirement homes to validate their resident and staff rates for vaccine coverage based on a one-day census,” noting staff and resident numbers fluctuate. Public health staff “collected and reviewed the data,” which is an “estimate” as of March 8, said the statement from spokesperson James Berry.
“These values have been validated by the facilities,” Berry said, adding that public health will be “repeating this process” to provide updated vaccination rates.
“In the process of this work, it has been determined a census was not completed for the Heritage Green retirement home,” he continued. Public health “has contacted the home’s administrator and updated vaccine coverage data for this retirement home.”
Asked where the original numbers came from, public health said it was “pulled from census data from the long-term-care home” — the nursing facility adjacent to Heritage Green Retirement Home.
In an interview earlier Friday, Scott Kozachenko, Heritage Green’s administrator for both the long-term-care and retirement home, declined to say where the numbers came from, deferring instead to public health.
“I don’t think they’re accurately reported,” he said.
The long-term-care home’s numbers are listed at 26.7 per cent for staff, but Kozachenko declined to clarify if those numbers — and not just the retirement home’s — are inaccurate, too.
“We continue to work with the ministry, with public health in encouraging everyone to get vaccinated,” Kozachenko said. “The best and only way really to overcome this is to protect everyone through vaccination.”
SEIU Healthcare, a union representing workers at Heritage Green long-term care, could not provide staff vaccination levels for the facility, either, saying they depend on the home to provide them.
“Unfortunately, management at Heritage Green Nursing Home refuse to be transparent with us about vaccination rates in the home and their plans to improve uptake,” said a statement attributed to president Sharleen Stewart. “We urge the administrator to work with our union to eliminate any financial or informational barriers that might remain.
“Health-care workers are essential in the fight against COVID-19 and nothing is more important to us than their safety and protection,” Stewart said. “The single most important step we can take is to roll-up our sleeves and get vaccinated.”
Maria Iqbal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator