Schenectady Workers Join Statewide Picket For Nursing Home Reform - Action Comes On Heels Of NYS Attorney General Report ‘That Found Correlation Between Low Staffing Levels & Increased’ Coronavirus Deaths
(SCHENECTADY, NEW YORK) - Employees from a Schenectady nursing home joined hundreds of other Nursing Home Workers statewide in picketing outside their facilities late last week to advocate for increased investment in resident care and staffing.
Around a dozen Workers from the Schenectady Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing on Altamont Avenue marched outside the facility Thursday (February 18th) afternoon with signs calling for quality care that "puts residents first."
Similar pickets occurred outside more than 20 facilities around the state Thursday.
The Employees are members of 1199 Service Employees International Union (SEIU) United Healthcare Workers East, a Union representing more than 450,000 Health Care Workers in five states - including New York, and in Washington D.C.
The Union previously launched a multi-million dollar ad campaign calling for systemic reform in nursing homes after a recent state Attorney General’s report exposed concerns nursing home employees have had for years about low staffing levels in New York.
The report found under-staffing prior to the Coronavirus Pandemic was directly correlated with increased deaths from the virus in New York facilities.
Lorna Jacobs, a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) at the Schenectady Center, said staffing has become particularly problematic at the center during the pandemic.
On a recent day, there were just two aides and one Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) caring for more than 30 residents, she said.
“And this wasn’t at night when they are sleeping,” she said. “This is in the middle of the afternoon when they are awake and have to eat, and we have to tend to their hygiene. Not to mention companionship. Their relatives and friends can’t visit. It’s only us for their physical and emotional needs. Where is the time to do that? The reason I stay is because I don’t want to be another person to leave them. But a lot of our Co-Workers have been leaving, even more since COVID-19. There needs to be changes in how nursing homes are run.”
1199 SEIU is targeting the for-profit nursing home industry in particular, which the Attorney General’s report excoriated as helping to fuel chronic staffing shortages.
It noted a number of for-profit nursing home owners have been investigated and convicted for funneling public money into shell corporations and “self-dealing” by subcontracting out services to entities with close business or personal relations, all while staffing levels continue to suffer.
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