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end of infinity health care strike

Chicago-Area Nursing Home Workers Ask For New Contract and Agree To ‘Tentatively’ End Strike

Much like hospital staff, Illinois nursing home employees have been working under complicated circumstances as the coronavirus continues to spread. So, it comes with no surprise that after requests for a safer workplace had stalled since June, an estimated 700 care workers from Infinity Healthcare Management walked off the job in late November, prompting a 12-day strike. The employees, who have been facing extreme workplace challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the greater Chicago-area, say they deserve significant wage increases equal to other nursing homes. The workers asked for a $2 an hour bump in pay and COVID hazard pay for all employees working at a facility with positive residents without attendance requirements, and also a guarantee for tools and resources such as personal protection equipment (PPE).

The nursing home workers and SEIU Healthcare Illinois union leaders announced on Friday, December 4th, that they had reached a possible agreement with Infinity leaders. The new ‘tentative’ agreement, according to SEIU, calls for a new three-year contract which includes:

nursing home staff must wash hands

7 Hand Hygiene Truths to Keep Your Loved One’s Nursing Home Accountable

Hand hygiene for infection prevention is an essential part of the U.S. response to the preventing further spread of COVID-19 in long-term care facilities. Nursing home staff should especially adhere to the standard and transmission-based precautions when caring for their patients. Here is a closer look at seven truths provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to explain how properly cleaned hands of health care workers can protect our most vulnerable populations.

  1. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer is more effective and less drying than using soap and water. Compared to soap and water, alcohol-based hand sanitizers are better at reducing bacterial counts on hands and are effective against multidrug-resistant organisms (e.g., MRSA). Additionally, alcohol-based hand sanitizers cause less skin irritation than frequent use of soap and water.

nursing home death by neglect covid-19

Associated Press: “Residents are suffering and dying from neglect.”

The nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys at Levin and Perconti support a statement provided by The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care in response to a November 19, 2020, Associated Press report, Not just COVID: Nursing home neglect deaths surge in shadows. The article only confirmed what advocates for residents of long-term care facilities, care workers, and families have known for months: residents are suffering and dying from neglect.

According to the AP:

covid-19 pandemic nursing home criminal charges

Massachusetts Nursing Home Leaders Are First to Face Criminal Charges Related to Coronavirus Deaths

Holyoke Soldiers’ Home in Massachusetts is home to 76 patients who died due to coronavirus outbreak that began in March and led to 160 residents and staff members found to be positive for COVID-19. According to Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, two leaders of the veterans’ home have now been criminally charged for those related deaths. Healey said the nursing home officials are believed to be the first in the country to face criminal charges in connection with the pandemic.

According to McKnight’s Long-Term Care News, “A grand jury indicted former Holyoke Soldiers’ Home Superintendent Bennett Walsh, 50, and former Medical Director Dr. David Clinton, 71, based on their decision to merge two dementia care units, combining COVID-19 positive residents with others who were asymptomatic.”

flu outbreaks during covid-19 pandemic

COVID-19 Care Failures Should Prepare Illinois Nursing Homes for Influenza Outbreaks

In the last flu season, an estimated 35.5 million people were sick with the illness, 16.5 million people required a health care provider for their treatment, and there were 490,600 influenza hospitalizations and 34,200 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Due to the coronavirus pandemic and an estimated 213,000 related deaths and counting, medical communities agree that this year’s influenza burden may magnify one of the deadliest illnesses in the United States, with the elderly residing in nursing homes affected most severely.

Shockingly, U.S. nursing homes have the lowest flu shot rates among health settings, leaving many residents of nursing homes already at a significant risk of becoming infected with COVID-19, now left to battle influenza. And as we have witnessed with the rapid spread of COVID-19, many nursing homes and long-term care facilities are not necessarily prepared to prevent an infectious disease outbreak among residents and staff. The pandemic has brought renewed attention to nursing home quality issues related to infectious diseases, such as:

southern illinois nursing homes covid-19

Nursing Home Outbreak at Stearns Facility Points to Sick Care Workers

An Illinois nursing home in Madison County is under investigation related to a COVID-19 outbreak that has killed 12 people and infected more than 100. Stearns Nursing and Rehabilitation Center is located at 2900 Stearns Avenue in Granite City. The 109-bed home operates as a lower quality, One-Star Medicare Certified, Medicaid Approved skilled nursing center.

In response to the coronavirus outbreak, an investigation led by the Illinois Department of Health (IDPH) revealed that the nursing home allowed employees to continue working despite testing positive for COVID-19. A facility director cited Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines that address mitigating staff shortages to justify the shortcoming.

understaffing and falls at nursing homes
Like many U.S. nursing homes, elder care facilities in Illinois seem continuously challenged by an inadequate amount of care workers. Even though the state requires 2.5 hours of direct care for residents each day, about a quarter of the residents in Chicago-area homes are living in understaffed conditions putting them at risk for abuse and neglect.

While some long-term care facilities have been routinely understaffed for years, others continue to manage facilities with very little interest in providing attentive and quality resident care even in the midst of a worldwide pandemic. As a result, fall-related injuries among residents are on the rise.

Hazards that contribute to nursing home resident fall injuries have included:

covid-19 pandemic highlights
U.S. nursing home residents, totaling 1.2 million seniors and nonelderly people with disabilities living in over 15,000 facilities, are at increased risk of coronavirus infection and complications. The combined challenges of the facility setting and shared living environment, residents with underlying health conditions, the close contact that many care workers have with residents, and failures in facilities who do not provide quality care, all contribute to the high number of COVID-19 cases and outbreaks in the elder communities.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), as of August 7, 20202:

  • More than 25,000 cases of COVID-19 have been traced back to nursing home residents and staff, resulting in 4,162 deaths.

nursing home staff ignoring dementia symptoms

Identifying Dementia Warning Signs in Nursing Home Residents

Dementia denial from caregivers is real and dangerous. And unfortunately, many nursing home owners find it easier to have staff ignore the warning signs of declining cognitive abilities rather than provide additional support. Dementia diagnoses can also be missed when overworked, and poorly resourced care teams are not trained to evaluate struggling residents who require extra supervision and management of their daily activities, medications, and financial needs. Eventually, these residents need to move to a 24-hour assisted specialized environment to keep them safe, especially as their disease progresses into later stages. Family members and friends are typically the first to request help after noticing a loved one’s behavioral changes or one or more of the concerning events listed below.

#1. Early Stage Memory Loss

nursing home understaffing dire

The Chronic Problems Related to Understaffed Nursing Homes

Deliberate understaffing is a common practice in nursing homes across the U.S., and especially here in Illinois, where nearly 70% of all long-term care networks are for-profit owned. When facilities are privately owned and operated, owners become more concerned about profits than having the right amount of staff available to provide quality patient care. According to a 2018-2019 report prepared by the Department of Health and Human Services, an incredible 90% of U.S. facilities are understaffed. The findings were documented by evidence through payroll records that showed nursing homes were underreporting staffing challenges.

Worker shortages contribute to nursing home struggles that sometimes lead to preventable hospitalizations, injuries, or deaths. Risky cost-cutting measures and unethical practices are creating a ripple of adverse effects that nursing home residents ultimately pay for.

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