Let me preface this article by saying that long term care nurses work so hard. This article is not about the problems in long term care but an after effect of nurses speaking their mind. Reuters published an exposé on June 10, 2020, titled “Special Report: Pandemic Exposes Systemic Staffing Problems at U.S. Nursing Homes.”
In this article, residents complained about how they have called for nurses and not only does no one respond but the call light is shut off.
In one nursing home, a double-amputee hoisted herself into her wheelchair to take herself to the nurses’ station to get the help she needed. In another home, a resident was found sitting in a puddle of urine which was seeping into her coccyx wound.
These are the issues of the longstanding problem with staffing shortages and how they are reflective of chronic turnovers in nursing home.
Of the more than 100,000 COVID deaths in the United States, 40% are connected to long term care facilities.
The article discusses that in one facility, a teenage Certified Nursing Assistant was taking care of 30 residents. The article discusses how management failed to provide protective gear or to communicate how the virus was spreading. One nursing assistant noted that when she brought her own mask to work, management told her not to wear it.
Nurse, Lisa Harmon, who supervises weekend shifts, spoke up about the care and how when health care workers get ill with no one to replace them, the ones on duty have to take care of many more patients. After the article was released, she was barred from the building.
Another nurse who was interviewed about issues at the facility, Colleen Lelievre, was terminated for allegedly making clerical errors involving narcotics for residents. It’s suspicious how this was conveniently discovered just 2 days after the article came out.
It sounds like what was happening at the facilities was improper and endangered patients due to short staffing.
I’m not sure what has since happened with either of these nurses, but it is concerning that nurses who speak up are not being allowed to work or are even terminated afterwards. Nurses should be able to speak their mind about their care.
Nurses should not be afraid of speaking up about bad care. I encourage all nurses to stick together if there is a dangerous situation because that is the only way we can improve patient care.
Sharon Gravelle says
Amen! Fear of retaliation is real and happening! As an advocate of safe staffing and a online recruiting site encouraging nurses to be speak up for not only their patients safety but there own! It is an ongoing problem and corporate greed is at the helm..
Laura lewis says
I have been working in LTC for 3 years and now there are plenty of opportunities available. The one thing I have asked at the pre interview is how the company is dealing with the COVID-19 virus, what steps do they have in place and do they provide the proper PPE to all employees regardless if they are taking care of COVID patients or not. I stated I don’t want to sign a contract for 13 weeks if I don’t have the proper PPE then I will not stay. Most of them didn’t get back to me, meaning they couldn’t’ t answer the questions. Our facility took it day by day but when the virus hit we did and still do have the proper equipment. After taking care of 19 COVID patients for 2 weeks had to speak up and say that I need to get tested or I will not come to work until I get tested. Now it is mandatory by the state for all caretakers to get tested every other week. Some times you have to be your own advocate and speak up, even if it may cost you a job, what is important is that you feel safe and your employer is taking the safety precautions to protect you and the patients.