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Benefits Crisis Hits Delmar Nursing Home

Employees at a nursing home in Albany County have been notified their health care benefits will be terminated in less than 30 days.

WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

The move by Lutheran Care Network, which operates Good Samaritan Nursing Home and Kenwood Manor on Rockefeller Road in Delmar, drove union employees out onto the highway in front of the facility Friday morning to air their grievances.  

According to 1199SEIU, Lutheran Care stopped paying into the employees’ contractually required Health Benefit Fund.  Greg Speller is the union's Executive Vice President.   Noting that the Delmar facility is the only one of its kind in the immediate area that offers long-term care, he addressed the employees’ dilemma and the rumor that Lutheran Care Network is planning to sell the business.   "We wanted to express our concern today to the public about what's happening with the conditions of the homes, how they're being run, specifically the delinquency in this case, but also beyond that, that we understand the home may be sold in the near future, and that we want to basically say to any incoming operator that you have to respect — you respect the residents of the home, which is their home, by respecting also the caregivers and what they need to stay here, to take what you know, take care of these, these sometimes very frail and sick residents."

The workers say even though they are worried about their pensions and health insurance, they'll continue to care for the residents at the 120-bed facility, some of whom they've known for years, but worry about caring for their own families and for themselves.

Credit WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

Cathy Brown, a health aide, says employees' worries have increased over the last several weeks.   "I've been here for 15 years and I've never seen staffing this bad where we have one aide to 40 residents and two aides to take care of 40, residents, one on each side. We can't give them the proper care that we have been giving them, without the adequate staffing. We don't have any washcloths to wash them. We're using one type of soap to wash the residents. The food is not great. They complain about the food. Without our health insurance, we have to be healthy in order for us to come in here to take care of the residents. If we're all broke up and falling apart how are we going to come in and take care of the residents?"

Calls to Lutheran Care Network’s headquarters were referred to the Delmar facility's in-house administrator, who refused to speak with WAMC other than to say the patients were being cared for.

Click on image to ENLARGE.

A letter to residents’ families available at the guest sign-in table indicates management wants to keep residents and their families from involvement with union activities.

A wheelchair-bound resident made his way to the roadside press conference to share a letter residents have prepared for New York state Senate and Assembly members.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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