A visitor to this blog shared the following comment a few days ago. I think her comment speaks directly to the issue of corporate greed and that leads to both the neglect of nursing home residents as well as mistreatment of nursing staff. A nurse wrote:

“At one time I worked in a nursing home that was so understaffed that I dreaded work every day. I provided care to 24 residents at one time (on a unit with a total of 48 residents). On my shift there were just two CNAs and two nurses for 48 residents.

One time I was forced to work while having the flu and a 102 degree fever. Management told me that I would be fired if I didn’t report to work and they would demand the state revoke my licence for abandonment. It is really sad what happens in these nursing homes.”

Many important issues are touched on here.

  1. Clearly nursing home management had NO regard for the residents by insisting that a staff member with a fever of 102 and a diagnosis of the flu report to work — or else! True, most all nursing home residents are given a flu vaccine shot each year, but that is NO guarantee of protection from every strain of the flu. Given the severe health problems most nursing home residents have in the first place, the last thing that needs to happen is for them to be exposed to the flu! The flu can be deadly for elderly persons and others who suffer from serious health problems.
  2. Clearly nursing home management had NO respect for their staff member in this case. Someone sick with the flu, without question, should be allowed to stay home from work. Nurses and all caregivers have a RIGHT to take care of themselves and their health!
  3. Clearly nursing home management ignored their option to bring out one (or more, if needed) temporary employee(s) to cover the shift(s) of the nurse sick with the flu — assuming no other qualified staff members were available to cover her shift(s). Oh wait, temporary employment agencies charge for providing staff. Which means that would be a threat to the bottom line for the nursing home involved in this situation! We certainly have greed taking priority over respecting the health of residents and treating their nursing staff with dignity! Indeed GREED MUST ALWAYS rule the day with the nursing home industry! Sad. Truly sad.
  4. One nurse and one CNA per shift for 24 nursing home residents. Do the math: how many minutes PER RESIDENT can the nursing staff provide EACH resident over the course of an 8 hour shift? When I do the math it comes out to 20 minutes per resident/per staff member. Generous? Hardly! Especially considering how much time is spent by both nurses and CNAs to do things like clean up messes caused by sick residents (including helping a resident change out of soiled clothing and changing  bed clothing), taking infirm residents to and from the bathroom, giving showers, serving food and feeding infirm residents, preparing medications, etc. — on top of doing all of the paperwork required to document resident care!
  5. One nurse and CNA per 12 residents would be able to provide a lot better quality of care than one each per 48 residents, don’t you think? Remember most CNAs barely earn above minimum wage and many don’t work enough hours to qualify for health insurance or other company benefits! So nursing homes can’t afford to hire more CNAs yet the owners, administrators and other management people (who never — or hardly ever — provide direct resident care make five, six-or-more-figure annual salaries! It isn’t fair. It isn’t just. The priorities regarding financial compensation for staff are all wrong!

Some people who read this blog assume that I am against nurses and CNAs who care for nursing home residents. I have no respect or use for staff who abuse and/or neglect the residents charged to their care. At the same time, I would never assume that most or all nurses abuse of neglect their residents. No, the real evil here clearly goes back to ownership and management. The fault for corporate greed begins and ends with them.

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