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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 , 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.

Rick October 11, 2012 at 12:52 PM
My mom lived at Alden Courts in DP during the last years of her life. Most of the staff did a great job but there were a couple that didn't seem to care. When I went to visit some evenings, one was actually sleeping an a recliner in a room across the hall on a frequent basis. For the thousands I was paying per month, Alden certainly could afford to sufficiently staff their 3 facilities. Especially with the brutal room increases Cara has been implementing. I side with the CNAs on this issue and will stop by there today.
Tracey D October 11, 2012 at 09:12 PM
I am surprised to hear that there are any staffing issues at Alden in Des Plaines. My father was a patient there last year and the entire staff was attentive, responsive and warm with him and my entire family. We always felt comfortable leaving there at the end of the day because we knew he was being cared for so well. From the staff in the dining room, to the aides and the management, our experience was extremely positive.
Michael October 12, 2012 at 04:34 PM
As an employee myself at Alden Des Plaines, it is very disheartening to hear such inaccurate accounts of our staff and ways some are saying we are run as a facility. I always notice smiling residents, and appreciative staff here at Alden. In the cases where this is not constant, I have personally witnessed management addressing concerns immediately. I have absolute respect for the way the company supports one another, and know of many others that feel the same. In the case where CNA's call in, management follows up by calling every single CNA if necessary to find additional coverage. At the same time, directors help on the floor to provide assistance, until other staff is able to come in. Having worked here for quite some time, I could not ask for more.
sergio October 12, 2012 at 08:59 PM
It's amazing to know that MICHAEL thinks like that about management " i'm leafing all the way". what it's your position there?, anyway just so you know I just to work there and the times people calls in it was 100% positive that we had to deal with short staff. The care of a patient that way is poor because we were always short trying to get our job done the best way, but with no staff was always impossible and not the best for the residents of course. Most of the times was not just about been short because someone called in, but because " MANAGEMENT " gave us always too many residents to take care as Edgar Vargas mentioned, and most of ever times you have to take care more than twelve residents.When I was there we were supposed to get a raise from the union that never arrived.
Rick October 12, 2012 at 11:25 PM
The Alden CNA's did the best they could for my mom at Courts despite being short staffed, but I also call BS on this "Michael" posting here. Michael=Margie? I remember that despite my paying $5,900/month, they were going to take away the hand soap for the dementia patients. Say what?
PANCHITO LOL October 13, 2012 at 03:49 AM
Current Working at Alden Des Plaines and they just have Working last night 3 Nurses for 2 Buildings Garden Court and Alden Facility.

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