FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, October 26
For more information: Emily Dong at firstname.lastname@example.org or 267-761-1502
Nursing Home Workers March for National Safe Staffing and Owner Accountability
Hundreds of caregivers at the largest annual gathering of PA nursing home workers called for and supported national staffing standards
Lancaster, PA – Over 300 caregivers from across the state marched in Lancaster on Thursday to call on nursing home owners like Priority Healthcare Group to invest in resident care. Caregivers shared their support for the national staffing standards proposed by the Biden Administration, which will hold owners accountable to spending public funding on staffing.
“The problem is that Priority doesn’t want to pay for more staff. They would rather you work short,” said Tinika Dekeyser, a certified nursing assistant for 23 years at the Gardens at West Shore, which is owned by Priority. “My coworkers and I had to strike last year. To make sure money from the state was put to resident care and to defend our union health insurance.”
Caregiver support for the proposed Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) nursing home rules comes as Priority, one of the largest operators in the state, will not offer workers at Shenandoah Manor access to high-quality, affordable health insurance. Workers say adequate health benefits along with competitive wages are critical to recruiting and retaining skilled caregivers.
“It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but when my coworkers need to schedule their regular mammograms, they’re told they would have to go to New Jersey and New York for one in the network,” said Paula Matsell, a certified nursing assistant at Shenandoah Manor for 30 years. “It’s overwhelming how many great caregivers have left because of the healthcare. Would Priority’s management take this insurance?”
State Rep. Izzy Smith-Wade-El and a representative from U.S. Senator John Fetterman’s Office joined the workers in supporting the Biden Administration’s staffing proposal and accountability for owners such as Priority. The public comment period for the CMS staffing proposal ends November 6th.
The caregivers were attending the largest annual gathering of Pennsylvania nursing home workers, focused on how they can protect their residents and communities through strong unions, funding accountability, and safe staffing.
“We know what residents need, which is the best caregivers. That means national staffing standards. That means accountability for all nursing home owners. That means a union in every nursing home.”
SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania is the state’s largest and fastest-growing union of nurses and healthcare workers, uniting tens of thousands of professional and technical employees, direct care workers, and service employees in hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, home- and community-based services, and state facilities across the Commonwealth. SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania members are committed to improving the lives of health care workers and ensuring quality care and healthy communities for all Pennsylvanians.