“Vote for Safe Staffing” Says 1199SEIU Member Organizer Karen Scott

November 3, 2022

Karen Scott edited 2022.jpgThere are many critical issues that could affect working families depending on the outcome of the midterm elections - from voting rights to women’s reproductive freedom. But a top priority for member organizer Karen Scott is staffing. It’s an issue she knows well as a longtime certified nursing assistant (CNA) at an assisted living facility in Tampa. Right now, she’s devoting her time to electoral work to help get out the vote. But she says she still hears grim stories from colleagues about the impact unsafe staffing is having on residents and caregivers.

“Since Ron DeSantis signed a law earlier this year reducing bedside care by CNA’s from 2.5 to 2.0 hours, the quality-of-care seniors need and deserve has dramatically diminished. There are reports of more bedsores, weight loss, dehydration and broken bones. It’s sad. Residents are suffering because there are not enough caregivers to tend to their needs,” said Scott.

In the nursing home industry, high turnover rates have been a chronic issue due to low wages and unaffordable health benefits. COVID-19 made matters worse. Thousands of workers got sick and many died. Those that remain are stretched too thin.

Short staffing is also taking a toll on hospital patients and workers. In both nursing homes and hospitals, the problem started long before the pandemic.

“Workers are exhausted and suffering severe burnout. They can’t take a break because they sometimes have 20 or more residents to care for,” said Scott. “They’re fed up and leaving. So, who will care for your loved one if elected officials don’t address the short staffing crisis?”

Scott believes staffing shouldn’t be a partisan issue because everyone wants and needs quality care. She knows elected officials have the power to fix the staffing and retention crisis. That’s why she’s talking to voters and encouraging them to support candidates who share our values.

“Most people don’t understand that elections impact our workplace and community. When I talk to voters, I try to make this connection, so they realize what is at stake if they don’t vote. You just can’t sit this one out.”

In addition to voting, Scott urges healthcare workers to volunteer to help 1199SEIU endorsed candidates win. Topping the list are Charlie Crist and Karla Hernandez for governor and lt. governor respectively and Val Demings for U.S. Senate. These candidates support working families and will work hard to address the staffing, retention and housing crisis.

For a full list of endorsed candidates, volunteer opportunities and other voter information, visit 1199votes.org.

Early voting wraps up Sunday November 6 in many counties in Florida but check your county Supervisor of Elections website to confirm dates. Election day is Tuesday, November 8.