Home Care Agencies Worry Vaccine Mandate Could Worsen Staff Shortages

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Home health care agencies across the state are bracing for more possible staffing shortages as COVID-19 vaccine mandates take effect.

"COVID has definitely a big play on everyone's world right now,” said Amy Wombolt, founder of Memory Lane, an at-home care agency.

While a worker shortage has long plagued the industry, the pandemic has intensified the problem.

"I thought that I was just going to be able to get them non-stop caregivers and then continue my job at the school district where I had been working for the last 15 years," said Wombolt.

A year ago, Wombolt had no choice but to leave her job to care for her in-laws who were both suffering from dementia.

"I had to give up my job at the school district because I had to be with them full-time,” explained Wombolt.

In order to keep paying her bills, Wombolt decided to open up her care services to more people. That's when she created Memory Lane. She was quickly able to build her client list, but it's her employee roster she's been struggling with.

"I work seven days a week," said Wombolt. "I could really use some really great humans.”

And now she fears the COVID-19 vaccine mandate could make things much worse.

In California, all registered home care aides have to be fully vaccinated by November 30. Wombolt said some of her employees are still without the shot.

"You have to decide what's important for you and go from there,” Wombolt said.

A choice that could ultimately affect her business - and the care her patients receive.

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