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TRI-COUNTY—Families and patients will now be able to compare COVID-19 vaccination rates amongst nursing homes thanks to a new online tool featured on Medicare.gov.

The new online tool, “Care Compare,” hopes to make this data more accessible after complaints from consumer groups and lawmakers that the critical data had been too difficult to find.

Care Compare can be used for basic research on quality and safety issues in nursing homes. Consumers will be able to compare up to three nursing homes at the same time, and the webpage shows vaccination rates for residents and staff, as well as national and state averages.

Nursing homes have been overwhelmed throughout the pandemic, accounting for more than 150,000 deaths in the United States. Nationally, about 84% of residents are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, which has helped to slow the spread but not totally prevented it as the delta variant is running rampant.

In the Tri-County, the Barbourville Health and Rehabilitation Center is just below the national average with 82 percent of residents fully vaccinated as of the latest report, while The Heritage in Corbin is lower than that at 78 percent of residents vaccinated.

The rest of the nursing homes throughout the Tri-County are higher than the national average, with Hillcrest Health and Rehabilitation Center in Corbin sitting at 89.3 percent of residents fully vaccinated, 89.8 percent of residents at Corbin’s Christian Health Center are vaccinated while 90 percent of residents are fully vaccinated at the Williamsburg Health and Rehabilitation Center. The Corbin Health and Rehabilitation Center has 92.5 percent of its residents fully vaccinated and Laurel Heights Home for the Elderly tops the Tri-County with 95.6 percent of its residents fully vaccinated.

Nursing home staff are a bigger concern, though as only approximately 64 percent are fully vaccinated nationwide. The virus commonly gets into facilities via staffers who have been exposed in the community and unknowingly bring it back into the facility.

Laurel Heights Home for the Elderly tops the Tri-County in percentage of staffers who are fully vaccinated at 83.1 percent while Corbin Health and Rehabilitation Center has the smallest percentage of vaccinated staffers at only 36.7 percent.

Vaccinated staff percentages include Barbourville Health and Rehabilitation Center at 44.3 percent, Williamsburg Health and Rehabilitation Center at 43.8 percent, Corbin’s Hillcrest Health and Rehabilitation Center at 39.2 percent, Christian Health Center in Corbin at 39 percent and The Heritage in Corbin at 38.2 percent.

The new online tool hopes to remind consumers comparing facilities that higher percentages of vaccinated residents and staff “are better.” The COVID-19 vaccination rates are available just below each nursing home's ratings, reflecting the latest report by nursing homes to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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