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1199SEIU Candlelight Vigil: Quality Care Issues Raise Serious Concerns at Baptist Rehab and Nursing Center

October 18, 2016

For Immediate Release: October 18, 2016

Contact: Mindy Berman, 518.229.0486

MEDIA ADVISORY FOR: WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 19

1199SEIU Candlelight Vigil: Quality Care Issues Raise Serious Concerns at Baptist Rehab and Nursing Center

Recent Elopement of Baptist Nursing Home Resident in Scotia Raises Serious Concerns for Nursing Home Workers, Who Have Been Sounding the

Quality Care Alarm for Months

WHAT: “CANDLELIGHT VIGIL: SHINING THE LIGHT ON JUSTICE”

AT BAPTIST HEALTH NURSING & REHABILITATION CENTER

WHO: 1199SEIU HEALTHCARE WORKERS, COMMUNITY AND LABOR ALLIES, CLERGY, ELECTED OFFICIALS

WHERE: 297 N. BALLSTON AVE, SCOTIA

WHEN: WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 19

3:15 P.M. - INTERVIEWS AND PHOTO OPPORTUNITIES AT THE SITE

Background:

The caregivers at Baptist Health Rehab and Nursing Center (Baptist Nursing Home) voted overwhelmingly to join 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East in April 2015 and since have been trying to negotiate their first collective bargaining agreement with the nursing home’s management, to no avail. At issue is the employer’s refusal to provide living wages and affordable health benefits. The workers take care of the frail and elderly residents who live at the nursing home -- they dedicate their lives to caring for those who cannot care for themselves. The residents count on the workers for healthcare and comfort, to cook and clean and often for social interaction.

Recent Concerns About Quality Care: Resident Found Alone, Two Miles from Nursing Home

On September 10, Faith Gregory, a certified nursing assistant (CNA) at Baptist Nursing Home was taking care of personal errands on her day off. She stopped for gas on Dutch Meadow Lane in Schenectady, about 2 miles from the nursing home where she works caring for frail and elderly residents and thought she saw one of those residents in his electric wheelchair, in the middle of the road, without a companion. She called the nursing home, but no one was aware that a resident was missing.

“I hung up the phone and took it upon myself to check. I stopped him, and it was who I thought, so I called the nursing home again and we waited. Eventually they sent someone – a maintenance worker, not even with an aide.”

While it is not unprecedented for a nursing home resident to attempt to wander, Faith Gregory and other caregivers say that getting that far without the facility’s knowledge is troubling. “We have been telling management for months and months about the extreme short staffing problem and how that affects quality care, but it feels like no one is listening,” she said.

Staffing and Quality Care Data:

According to the most recent data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Nursing Home Compare, Baptist Nursing Home underperforms state and national averages in Hours Per Resident Day (HRPD) of care delivered. CNAs at Baptist provide, on average, 2 hours and 15 minutes of care a day, which is 7 minutes per resident fewer than the state average and 13 minutes per resident fewer than the national average.1

“Study after study indicates that inadequate nursing home staffing puts quality care at risk. Moreover, high staff turnover has a significant impact on continuity of care, something that frail and elderly resident depend on. At Baptist, since January of this year, one third of the bargaining unit has left. The staff turnover is partly by driven below market wages and benefits, which make it difficult to recruit and retain staff,” said Greg Speller, 1199SEIU Executive Vice President.

“We are gravely concerned about poor ratings at Baptist when it comes to key indicators of quality care, such as falls with major injuries and catheters left in bladders2, for instance. These are serious problems that we believe are related to a high turnover rate and management’s practice of allowing the home to be short staffed,” Speller said.

The nursing home workers are also concerned about the excessive use of agency workers who are temporary workers with little connection or familiarity with the residents.

Healthcare Workers Are Still Without A Contract:

1199 members have been trying to address these issues for more than a year; short staffing was one of the reasons cited when the caregivers voted to join the union in April of 2015 and it has been one of the main points brought up at the negotiating table, where they have been trying, without success, to negotiate their first contract for the last 14 months. They say that a collective bargaining agreement, which raises standards for the nursing home workers, especially wages, currently among the lowest of any nursing home in the area, and affordable health benefits, will go a long way in helping to resolve problems related to the recruitment and retention of staff, thereby improving the staffing situation and quality care at the nursing home.

Community Support:

The 1199 healthcare workers have the support of the members of the Schenectady County Legislature, many of whom have written letters and/or spoken to Baptist’s management.

Schenectady County Legislator Gary Hughes said, “Nothing about the current situation is fair to the residents and their families who rely on quality and continuity of care delivered by a stable and experienced workforce, or to exhausted caregivers who are working short-staffed and providing the best possible care under challenging circumstances. Respecting the work of caregivers, treating them with dignity, and investing in the workforce is essential to quality resident care. We will continue to urge Baptist Nursing Home to immediately settle a fair contract that addresses these problems. Quality care can’t be put on hold.”

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1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East is the largest and fastest-growing healthcare union in America. We represent over 400,000 nurses and caregivers throughout Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Florida. Our mission is to achieve quality care and good jobs for all.

1 Staffing HPRD figures come from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Nursing Home Compare. https://www.medicare.gov/nursinghomecompare/profile.html#profTab=2&ID=335612&loc=SCOTIA%2C%20NY&lat=42.8264652&lng=-73.9642915&name=baptist&Distn=1.0

2 Quality Measures/Long-Stay Residents from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Nursing Home Compare, file date August 1, 2016. Four-quarter averages (encompassing 2015Q2, 2015Q3, 2015Q4, 2016Q1.)