WINTER PARK, Fla. – One Orange County nursing center spent $40,000 for its workforce to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
“I was undecided because it’s so new and everything that has happened in this last year has been very difficult to deal with,” said Tammy Chandler, the social services director for The Gardens at the Pugh Nursing Center in Winter Park.
She had doubts about being vaccinated but after administrators there offered $1,000 to each employee, her thought process changed. On May 13, she received her first shot.
“We started by having an infectious disease physician come in and talk to the staff. I think we had staff of about 40 then-- 43, and six people came to listen. I went around and talked to people that were on the fence or said they didn’t really wanna be vaccinated,” said Richard Baldwin, president of the board of directors for the nursing center.
Baldwin is the mastermind behind the idea.
“I’ve been in business my whole life and usually if you give people more money they’re willing to work harder or differently or whatever,” Baldwin said.
The nursing center’s first idea was $500. At the time, forty people were staffed.
“Statistically we went in with a minimal bonus of $500, we got maybe 14 staff or less than 20%,” executive director Elizabeth Barton said.
After that initiative didn’t show major results, an additional $500 was added to the bonus.
“Then we developed a system, the one that we ended up with that said we’re going to pay everyone who gets their first shot $100, we’re gonna pay $900 additional when you get your second shot if 75% of the place gets vaccinated,” Baldwin said.
Their strategy basically created peer pressure among the staff and it seemed to work. The nursing center ended up spending $40,000 for about 40 vaccinated employees.
“We almost doubled from the first vaccine go round to the second vaccine go round. Right now with turnover for the residents, it is 92%, for the staff it is 80.5%,” Barton said.
And after doing her own research, Chandler said keeping her loved ones safe was also a deciding factor.
“I found that for the greater good for our residents we should all be vaccinated,” Chandler said. “At the end of the day it’s better to have the vaccine and even though you may still contract the virus you will have a better outcome than without it.”