November 17, 2021

Regardless of legal challenges, be prepared to implement COVID-19 vaccination mandates: legal experts

McKnight Senior Living

Be prepared to act.

That was the consensus from a panel of legal experts who provided an update on the status of federal healthcare, COVID-19 vaccination and testing requirements to Argentum members on Tuesday.

During the virtual presentation, panelists from Foley Hoag and Marsh Senior Care Practice outlined the requirements and legal challenges to rules and standards issued by the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Best practices

Regardless of a stay or legal challenges related to the rules, the panelists encouraged providers to prepare by creating applicable policies and procedures and by taking steps to be in compliance if a stay is lifted and / or the courts side in favor of the federal government.

Based on the rules issued and legal implications, the panelists provided a series of recommendations:

  • Determine what a covered employer is, and clearly identify which employees are included in the mandate.
  • Develop COVID-19 vaccination policies and procedures, and establish a documentation system to verify employee vaccination status.
  • Implement a process for exemptions.
  • Verify policies for employee time off or paid leave to cover time for vaccination and recovery from side effects.
  • Train employees, residents and others on COVID-19 safety policies and procedures.

OSHA healthcare emergency temporary standard 

The OSHA healthcare emergency temporary standard went into effect June 21 and applies to healthcare settings where suspected or confirmed individuals with COVID-19 are treated, including assisted living communities, life plan / continuing care retirement communities, nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, and settings where home healthcare and hospice care are provided.

The standard requires operators to conduct hazard assessments and have written plans to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. It also requires healthcare employers to provide some employees with N95 respirators and other personal protective equipment. Additionally, it includes social distancing, employee screening, and cleaning and disinfecting protocols.

Stand-alone independent living communities that do not provide COVID-19-related healthcare to residents are not included in the workplace safety rules.

Although the standard is set to expire on or before Dec. 21, it could be changed or become a permanent standard, experts said. To date, there are no legal challenges to the OSHA healthcare emergency temporary standard and it remains in effect, they said. Read More

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