Day 175 – Well today was the day the union members have been waiting for, the NLRB hearing took place in Manhattan today and we are all waiting for the outcome. It appears that an injunction will be issued within the next couple of days to allow the striking members to return to work. There was no definitive ruling decided today, but the impression of all those who attended was that a ruling in the unions favor is eminent.
We (FIPNA) did not attend the hearing because we were attending a meeting with the Department of Health. Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz arranged a meeting with the DOH, 1199, FIPNA and family members who either have or have had relatives in Kingsbridge.
Those in attendance were Assemblyman Dinowitz and his assistant, Deputy Commissioner Mark Kissinger – DOH, Richard Healion – DOH, Althia Rodriquez-Rolan – DOH, Karen Argenti – FIPNA, Philip McDonnell – FIPNA, three family members and two 1199 union representatives.
The meeting was lead by Mr. Dinowitz and we all took turns speaking about our interactions with Kingsbridge. FIPNA was introduced and explained in a few short words our experience with Helen since she became the “operator” of the home. While FIPNA’s stories are unique to any community group around town, the stories told by the relatives were just plain awful.
One of the relatives had a father in Kingsbridge that passed away in June due to the fact that he was laid flat and water filled his lungs, he was sent to the hospital where he spent 15 days in the ICU. This was one of the most out spoken family members at the meeting, she even brought photos of the bruises all over her father which Kingsbridge attributed to taking a baby aspirin with coumadin, the family member did not buy that explanation. She also expressed her concerns about roaches in her fathers room, even in the drawers of his dresser.
Another resident of the home has been there for over 17 years, who suffered a massive stroke, is a war vet and requires a feeding tube. The family member stated that several times the feeding tube was not in place, she has noticed weight loss of her father, sores are visible from not turning, no hair cuts, no finger nails cut and she has to buy her own disposable diapers as Kingsbridge is using cloth diapers and does not supply disposable.
A serious allegation was brought up that Kingsbridge has cut corners so much that they don’t even have gloves on the residents floors and that some of the staff have one pair of gloves to reuse from patient to patient. Do I really have to spell out the issue of infection here?
Another allegation that was said was that there is a whirlpool bath that hasn’t worked for over three years, this bath is needed by some patients for rehabilitation. How can something like this be overlooked for such a length of time?
We were told by DOH that there are 347 nursing homes in the downstate Long Term Care jurisdiction with 100 staff people; 24 are inspectors who generally survey the homes once per year, and 15 are inspectors who respond to complaints. In the case of Kingsbridge on strike, at least 15 different inspectors go unannounced to the home about three times per week, or at least 100 visits since the strike began.
Our assumption is that either these inspectors are spread too thin or they are just ignoring the facts. For the DOH to tell us that everything is fine in Kingsbridge is troubling. How can the stories of so many family members, not just the ones in attendance today be so similar, but yet the DOH claims that nothing is wrong? We asked if the inspectors actually visit the floors or do they just compare the patient care plans, the DOH officials did not have a definitive answer to this question. We wondered how the inspectors could have missed seeing the boxes of gloves needed to control infections.
We concluded the meeting by asking the DOH officials what they are going to do to help us. They did not have an immediate answer as there are legal constraints. They asked the family members for more information, and stated that, working with the Attorney General, they are preparing to place a receiver as operator at Kingsbridge. They approached the current operator, Helen, about voluntarily leaving and allowing the home to go into receivership, however her answer was a resounding NO!
All in all we had a very good meeting and hopefully there will be some movement to oust Helen and bring in a receiver. At this point is it even possible for the workers to return to their jobs and actually work comfortably with Helen as their boss? After 6 months on a picket line all because of this one persons unwillingness to negotiate, how can Helen even face these workers?
Till tomorrow, STAND STRONG!