A nursing assistant and her union are sounding the alarm of unsafe and unfair practices at one local nursing home.
Sylvia Castillo, a certified nursing assistant, says Fresno PostAcute Care is not providing proper personal protective equipment, not providing adequate space for breaks, and reneging on a promise for hazard pay bonuses.
“They promised us a hero pay and they’re not giving it to us. We have to work in the conditions of what’s going on. We’re not getting heard,” Castillo said at a protest at the facility organized by the SEIU Local 2015 union.
Fresno PostAcute Care is a 24-hour facility for elderly patients, with 80 beds. Castillo said there are approximately 100 employees.
The owners of the facility say they follow established health protocols and treat their employees fairly.
Unsafe Equipment, Unfair Pay
“We have to wear one gown for eight hours and we go from patient to patient. So it’s basically cross-contamination.” — Sylvia Castillo, nurse
Castillo, and about six others, held signs outside the facility in southwest Fresno on Monday afternoon. They held a similar demonstration in April. The problems remained the same.
The protest was part of a coordinated nationwide day of action, called Strike for Black Lives.
“If we need a new mask, we literally have to show administration that our mask is soiled and give them a good reason why we need a new KN95 mask. If not, if we don’t have a good reason or we don’t show it, they won’t give us new mask. We have to work with it,” Castillo said.
That creates a health problem, Castillo said.
“We have to wear one gown for eight hours and we go from patient to patient. So it’s basically cross-contamination. All we do is wash hands and change gloves,” Castillo said.
Castillo said they just got the “runaround” when they presented the problems to management.
Another problem Castillo said was that the break room is too small, not allowing for physical distancing. Asked whether taking a break or lunch outside was possible, Castillo replied “Who’s going to want to have lunch in 100-degree weather? Not me.”
The Facility Responds
According to the state, there are at least six people with an ownership stake in Fresno PostAcute Care. They follow CDC, Medicare, and local health guidelines and best practices, the facility said in a statement to GV Wire℠.
“Our mission is to be hypervigilant in taking every recommended safety measure to minimize the continued spread of the virus to our residents and staff,” the facility said.
That includes daily temperature checks and COVID-19 screening of employees. Visitations are restricted, and sanitation is frequent.
“When there are COVID-19 positive residents in the facility, ‘Hero Pay’ of up to $3.00/hr is offered and paid to staff. This is in addition to other incentives employees as eligible for such as our ‘Wellness Bonus.’ Wages at Fresno PostAcute Care are highly competitive and for certain employees are the subject of negotiations with SEIU Local 2015. All employees are treated fairly, without consideration of their race, sex, national origin or any other protected characteristic,” the facility said.
According to the state, there has been at least one patient and one worker test positive for COVID-19.
Fresno PostAcute Care says it is well-stocked on PPE.
“We have ample supplies of personal protective equipment. Indeed, the facility typically maintains a thirty (30) day inventory,” the facility said.
Union Planning to Take Action
Pauline Grant-Clarke, an SEIU representative, said the facility is engaging in illegal pay discrepancies based on race and favoritism.
“They do the same type of work. They are here for the same amount of years, but they are paid different,” Grant-Clarke said. “If you are against the union, you will get more pay. If you are supporting the union, then everything you do … they threatened to write them off.”
Grant-Clarke said the union is considering taking action.
At Least Two COVID Cases
According to the state Department of Public Health database, Fresno PostActue Care has had between 1-10 COVID cases among patients, and the same amount for its healthcare workers. The information does not specify how many, just that it is under 11.
There have been no reported COVID-related deaths at the facility.
Fresno PostAcute Care has received 12 complaints in 2020 alone, three times the state average. They range from quality of care to unqualified personnel.
Earlier this year, the facility was fined $20,000 by the state for an incident last September, when a traumatic brain injury patient escaped the facility and was not found for four days.