McAlester nursing home disputes federal vaccination data

ADRIAN O'HANLON III | Staff photoMitchell Manor in McAlester 

A new tool released this week by a federal health agency shows COVID-19 vaccination rates at long-term care facilities across the nation — with one McAlester facility disputing a report showing it has none.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services created the new online tool to reflect COVID-19 vaccine data after President Joe Biden announced Aug. 18 that nursing home staff will be required to be vaccinated for those facilities to receive Medicare and Medicaid funding.

Data from CMS shows as of Sept. 5, 2021, shows the five nursing homes in McAlester have an average of 66.8% of residents vaccinated and 41.44% of staff vaccinated — including zero vaccinated staff and residents at Mitchell Manor, according to the report.

A corporate spokesperson for Transition Health Services, which oversees Mitchell Manor, said the CMS data was wrong. The spokesperson said the actual numbers were not immediately available, but estimated more than 70% of staff and residents are vaccinated.

According to the CMS data, Heritage Hills has the highest average number of both vaccinated staff and residents in McAlester and Pittsburg County with 90.74% of residents and 73.77% of staff vaccinated against COVID-19.

Data shows Walnut Grove Living Center with 71.88% of residents and 48.39% of staff were vaccinated; McAlester Nursing and Rehab had 85.71% of residents and 50.91% of staff vaccinated; and New Hope Retirement & Care Center reported 78.18% of its residents were vaccinated, with 35.39% of its staff also vaccinated.

Beare Manor in Hartshorne reported to CMS that 74.19% of its residents were vaccinated along with 49.73% of its staff.

CMS data shows as of Sept. 5, the national average for vaccinated residents was 89.1% and staff at 63.7%.

Although nursing homes have been mandated to report the data for several months now, the new user-friendly design to view the data was released this week.

“CMS wants to empower nursing home residents, their families and caregivers with the information they need when choosing care providers for their loved ones,” said CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure in a press released announcing the release of the online tool. “As we continue to work with our partners to monitor the spread of COVID-19 and keep nursing home residents safe, we want to give people a new tool to visualize this data to help them make informed decisions.”

The CMS report also shows the total number of COVID-19 cases and deaths at each facility with a total of 231 cases and 30 deaths between the five McAlester facilities.

A vaccine mandate for nursing homes that participate in Medicare and Medicaid is currently in the works, according to the CMS.

“This new requirement is a key component of protecting the health and safety of nursing home residents and staff by ensuring that all nursing home staff receive COVID-19 vaccinations,” the agency said. “Over the past several months, millions of vaccinations have been administered to nursing home residents and staff, and these vaccines have shown to help prevent COVID-19 and have proven to be effective against the Delta variant.”

CMS states the agency strongly urges nursing home staff and residents to get vaccinated as the agency undergoes the steps needed to implement the mandate and expects nursing home operators to act in the best interest of residents and their staff by complying with these new rules, which CMS expects to issue soon.

The latest numbers from the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s Weekly Epidemiology and Surveillance Report show a cumulative total of 332 cases and 36 deaths were reported in Pittsburg County nursing homes as of Sept. 11, with no active cases.

OSDH reported 183 active COVID-19 cases in Pittsburg County and three new deaths on Wednesday in the agency’s weekly county update.

Contact Derrick James at

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