Earlier this month, about 200 long-term care facility workers and supporters held a protest in Chicago’s Rogers Park. The workers, who are reportedly union members involved in an ongoing contract dispute, marched along Sheridan Avenue in front of four North Side nursing homes in order to draw attention to alleged low pay, understaffing, and limited resources at area skilled nursing facilities.
According to certified nursing assistant (CNA) Tanya Pugh Rizer, low pay rates make it impossible for nursing homes to retain the number and quality of employees required to properly care for elderly and disabled residents. She said CNAs are often the first to notice when a patient is ill or requires additional care. Pugh Rizer also stated it is difficult to understand how workers are paid so little when a group that represents hundreds of nursing homes throughout the state, the Illinois Association of Health Care Facilities (IAHCF), earned approximately $50.5 million in profits in 2011.
On average, Illinois CNAs earn $10.55 per hour. Although it is above the state minimum wage, CNA pay rates reportedly result in paychecks that fall below the poverty line for a family of four people. In addition, CNAs must come up with the funds to meet education, training, and licensing requirements prior to working at a certified long-term care facility. A certified nursing home is one that receives funds from Medicaid and Medicare. Certified facilities also must follow both state and federal regulations.
Many nursing home employees who attended the protest rally also sought better quality health care supplies and equipment. According to one march participant, Octavia Bradley, the facility she works at is constantly low on essential supplies such as soap. Additionally, she said the facility fails to supply sufficient resources such as bathing towels. Bradley claims residents are often dried with dirty clothing instead. Other protesters alleged that about one-fourth of IAHCF facilities violate staffing levels required by Illinois law. According to Pugh Rizer, the CNA to resident ratios at some area nursing homes is one to 17.
Unfortunately, inadequate staffing levels are a common factor in nursing home abuse or neglect in our state and throughout the nation. The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act required skilled nursing facilities to increase staff numbers in an effort to adequately meet the needs of all residents. The law required all nursing homes to provide 2.5 hours of direct care staffing for every skilled care resident by July 1, 2010. Additionally, it mandates that all long-term care facilities in Illinois must provide 3.8 hours of direct care staffing for every resident by January 1, 2014.
If you believe your loved one was abused or neglected while living in an Illinois nursing home, please contact the knowledgeable attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C. today. Our dedicated and hardworking Chicago nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers are available seven days per week to help you protect the rights of your elderly and disabled loved ones. To schedule a free consultation with a committed Illinois attorney, call Abels & Annes, P.C. at (312) 475-9596 or contact us through our website.
Chicago Doctor Sued Over Anti-Psychotic Drug Use in Nursing Home Residents, Illinois Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog, November 21, 2012
Complaints and New Ownership May Have Improved Care at Allegedly Substandard Lincoln Nursing Home, Illinois Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog, November 19, 2012
Nursing Home Workers Hold Vigil to Protest Working Conditions, progressillinois.com