“It is just indescribable what we are asking of nursing home workers at this moment in time,” Rob Baril, president of the Service Employees International Union of New England said.
Thursday the toll of COVID-19 on Connecticut’s nursing homes now being felt by its health care workers facing what they call a potential staffing crisis.
“There was a lag in getting that equipment out right now probably 15 facilities out of the 69 that are in our union that are facing incredible staffing shortages because so many workers are sick,” Baril said.
Baril says more than 700 union workers have either tested positive for COVID-19 or are self-isolating, and two union nursing home workers have died. The new numbers come as Baril says more than half of Connecticut’s 215 nursing homes have at least one confirmed case of COVID-19.
“I was just really frightened by those numbers,” Middletown Mayor Ben Florsheim said.
Florsheim says his city saw its biggest one day jump in fatalities yesterday, all the deaths were nursing home residents who were hospitalized.
“The ramp-up in testing is the best way to know what the next steps should be, it’s just the more information you have about who is carrying it,” Florsheim said.
Mairead Painter, the state’s long-term care ombudsman, says testing at nursing homes is a priority as well as improving communication with residents’ families.
“What we are encouraging them to do is to have someone who’s maybe not at the level of being a caregiver will be able to be at the home higher to answer the phone get that communication,” Painter said.
Baril says if more protective equipment and staffing does not come quickly, more nursing home health care workers could end up becoming patients themselves.
“They need help,” Baril said.