Page 8 - Work Force July-August 2020
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NT ursing home workers stand strong
housands of residents in nursing New York, nursing home staffs were At many nursing homes, staff funding concerns.
homes across the state not only forced into quick, ever-changing members also faced outbreaks of Through it all, CSEA members
rely on CSEA members to provide quality health care, but provide care that enhances their well-being.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit
action to protect residents from the virus that has had particularly harsh effects on individuals who are older and face underlying health conditions.
COVID-19, not only among residents, but among themselves. Along with the virus, many facilities also dealt with understaffing and
continued to provide quality care to some of our state’s most vulnerable individuals. On these pages are just a few of their stories.
 Chemung County Nursing Facility fighting pandemic and privatization
ELMIRA — Before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down New York State, CSEA members employed at the Chemung County Nursing Facility had been gearing up to fight back against privatization talks by the county.
While those discussions were in their early stages, staff at the nursing home had to prioritize the newest threat facing their workplace — coronavirus — to keep the home’s residents safe.
Jeanne Little, a licensed practical nurse at the home, said that staff was able to quickly adjust to the ever-changing state regulations and executive orders throughout the pandemic.
While not all the workers necessarily agreed with all of the changes, ultimately, everyone recognized they were necessary for resident safety.
When staff were wearing both face masks and shields, it limited their ability to connect with residents who, for various health reasons, might not otherwise recognize their caregivers.
“We printed pictures of our faces
and put them on our badges so they could see what we look like under all the masks and shields,” Little said. “So that was, and still is, challenging.”
While residents have been starved for social interaction, the facility’s activity coordinators have been working hard to ensure residents
can get outside (while wearing a mask) and are able to call and video chat with their loved ones whenever possible.
“[Residents] just all got their hair cut last week and that was a huge thing for them to feel some sort of normalcy,” Little said. “It’s just been a real struggle to keep their moods up.”
Low staffing levels were a concern even before the pandemic, but now that problem has gotten worse.
“Staffing right now is very, very poor. No one is applying [for jobs at the home] and we’re losing people,” Little said. “A lot of people are working eight, 12 or 16 hours while having to keep that mask on for that long and they are being tested once a week. We’re just trying to stay positive and trying to keep everyone
Jeanne Little on the job at Chemung County Nursing Facility early this year, before COVID-19 widely affected New York.
 upbeat saying this isn’t going to be forever.”
Chemung County officials will most likely start privatization talks again as they assess the financial toll that COVID-19 has taken.
Without unrestricted federal
funding to help local governments cover the loss of revenue during the shutdown, vital public services, like the great care the Chemung County Nursing Facility provides, could be in jeopardy.
— Nicholas Newcomb
 ‘We make sure our residents are safe, healthy and cared for’
 LYONS — Sodexo at Wayne County Nursing Home Local President Kelly Savage said health and safety protocols put in place at the nursing home early during the pandemic have clearly shown to produce dividends.
“We are faring pretty well now as
we get into the summer months,” said Savage. “We have a good supply of PPE [Personal Protective Equipment] thanks
to the N-95 masks and everyone has confidently adapted to the new policies and procedures.”
Savage, who works as a household assistant, helps nursing home residents with meals, laundry and hygiene.
“From the start, I haven’t been so worried for myself as much as I am for those of us who are at high risk for getting sick,” she said. “Right now, we
have no residents who are COVID-19 positive. Really, the only issue for us is we need more employees. We haven’t been able to hire any staff for obvious reasons. Other than that, we are showing up and doing what we have to do to make sure our residents are safe, healthy and well cared for.”
— Ove Overmyer
8 The Work Force
July-August 2020

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