Healthcare workers rally in support of resources for better patient care

Emily Burkhard & WNYT Staff
Updated: February 19, 2021 01:22 AM
Created: February 18, 2021 07:55 PM

SCHENECTADY - Members of 1199SEIU Healthcare Workers East rallied outside a Schenectady nursing home Thursday.

They want to raise awareness about “Invest in Care,” a multi-million dollar campaign that looks to make statewide reforms to the nursing home industry.

The union wants to see a state law that requires for-profit nursing homes to spend 70 percent of Medicaid dollars on direct patient care.

They're also asking lawmakers to pass reforms that would improve transparency, hold operators accountable for misconduct, and ensure resident care is prioritized over profits.

Union officials said facility owners can "hide" some of their profits by contracting with staffing agencies or pharmacies that they own, in essence paying themselves, often at inflated rates. They want to see those practices become illegal.

Direct care workers told NewsChannel 13 these aren't new issues, but they've gotten worse during the pandemic.

Rebecca Cooper has been a Certified Nursing Assistant (CAN) for 21 years. She said she's never seen staffing this bad.

“We just go in there feed them that's it, and say good night,” Cooper said. “It's sad, we feel sad.”

Bebi Bheem is also a CNA. She said she and other direct care staff should have at least a half an hour with each resident per day. However, because she's often tasked with enough work for four people, that rarely happens.

“It's very depressing you know to know that when you leave a room or you leave a resident, they are unhappy,” Bheem said. “You know they feel like it's our problem, it's us the staff, it's management, they're not helping us. They're giving us less staff and then we show them we can do it they decrease the staff more."

Centers Health Care, the company that operates Schenectady Care Center, issued a statement Thursday night, which read in part,

"Each facility has had floating nurses directed by Centers Health Care's clinical department to fill gaps when staff are either out sick or on their days off.  All in all, each facility continues to follow the state mandated numbers in order to operate."

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