Understaffing Puts Patients, Staff at Risk, Des Plaines Nursing Home Workers Say
More than a dozen certified nursing assistants from Alden Gardens of Des Plaines picketed outside the assisted living facility on Wednesday to bring attention to understaffing, low wages and contract negotiations, which have been ongoing for 10 months.
Cars driving by Alden Gardens of Des Plaines, 1255 E. Golf Road, honked in support of workers picketing outside the assisted living facility on Wednesday afternoon. The union workers are seeking a new contract with the operation’s owners, a pay raise and more staff on shifts, according to union representatives.
According to a press release from the Service Employees Union International, 2,000 workers from 50 nursing homes in Illinois were expected to picket on Wednesday. Workers at Glen Bridge in Niles and Grove North in Skokie also participated in the picket.
Maria Cordero, a certified nursing assistant at Alden Gardens of Des Plaines, said when workers are unable to fill their shifts, replacements are not put in place, and the burden of providing care to more patients is placed on the workers who are there. Cordero said in the building where she works, five nursing assistants are scheduled for the morning shift.
“The problem with the mornings is if somebody calls in, they don’t care, they just leave it to the employees,” Cordero said. “For example, if two CNA’s call in, only three CNA’s work. They don’t make that extra effort to look for someone to work.”
Edgar Vargas, also a certified nursing assistant at Alden Gardens of Des Plaines, said there are times when they are expected to care for 11 patients, while a safer number would be eight or nine, he said.
“If I have three lights on, we have to get which is the most important, but what if one tries to stand up herself?” Vargas said. “If that person can’t, she might fall because we are not there to help her.”
In the afternoon shift at Alden Gardens of Des Plaines, workers said, there were four certified nursing assistants scheduled, one less than the morning shift. While the workers are trying to negotiate higher wages and a new contract, at the same time, staffing was an issue emphasized by all of the picketers.
“What really gets me upset is they always leave us short-staffed,” Cordero said.
Cordero and Vargas said there were three workers injured within the last week lifting patients. Both have been with the company longer than two years; neither has received a raise, they said.
“They think it’s easy to take care of the residents, but it’s not,” Cordero said. “It’s a really hard job.”
Margie Hernandez, personnel director at Alden Gardens of Des Plaines, said they do not have any comment regarding the issues raised by workers at this time.