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'It's a zoo right now:' Loved ones question temporary nursing at Cedar Haven

Written by Daniel Walmer and Merriell Moyer/Lebanon Daily News | Oct 24, 2017 12:02 PM


Ashlynn Rufe, Elizabeth Harnish and Eva McBride participate in the strike against Cedar Haven Nursing Home Monday, Oct. 23, 2017. (Photo: Michael K. Dakota, Lebanon Daily)

Nurses continued to demonstrate outside Cedar Haven Monday, but according to loved ones of residents, the impact of the labor dispute can be felt inside because they say patient care is declining.

Sarah Allwein is a former nurse at Cedar Haven, so she knows how difficult it is to provide quality care. She also knows that her companion, who is in the home's dementia unit, isn't receiving the same level of care he had before Cedar Haven nurses went on strike.

"It's a zoo right now, and I pity the residents, because they're getting the dirtly end of the deal," Allwein said. 

Allwein said that she had to wash and dress her companion (whose name is being withheld to protect his privacy but is known to the Lebanon Daily News) because his clothes were not changed for three days. At 9:30 a.m., there were people not dressed, and people who typically receive meals in dining areas were being served meals in their rooms, she said.

Allwein's concerns are just one of many complaints about quality of care relayed by family members to the union representing the employees, said AFSCME council director Steve Mullen. He was sure to be clear that those reports from family members were not confirmed independently by the union.

Elsie Blyler, a restorative aide and certified nursing assistant at Cedar Haven whose 91-year-old mother is also a Cedar Haven resident, said she went to visit her mother at 2 p.m. Monday. Her mother did not have her cushion or armrest, and she did not have her hearing aid or her false teeth. None of the people caring for her knew when she had last been toileted, she said. 

"How can she eat without teeth?" Blyler asked.

Blyler had also been in on Friday, and her mother had not been toileted and had not been given an armrest or a neck collar, she said. Both Friday and Monday, staff remedied the situation after she complained, she said. 

The nurses were required to give a 10-day notice before they went on strike at noon Friday (Oct. 20) over a contract that reduced their paid time off and increased their health insurance costs. Chas Blalack, a principal owner in Stone Barn Holdings, which owns the nursing home, said last week that U.S. Nursing Corporation had been contracted to provide care to the residents during the strike.

"We are committed to making sure that any possible strike would not adversely impact our residents," Blalack said at the time.

Both Blalack and a representative for U.S. Nursing Corporation did not immediately return phone calls Monday seeking comment about the quality of care allegations.

Concerns are perhaps even greater for people who haven't been able to see their loved ones.

Sonja Rodriguez, a transport aide at Cedar Haven, said she went to visit her cousin, who is a Cedar Haven resident, around 1 p.m. Monday. An administrator told Rodriguez that her cousin was unavailable to see her but wouldn't give a reason, Rodriguez said.

"It's my family, and I want to know what's going on and if she's being taken care of," she said.

Meanwhile, there is no end in sight to the strike. Mullen said Monday that employees are "still waiting for the employer to come to his senses and sit down at the table with us."

This story comes to us through a partnership between WITF and the Lebanon Daily News

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