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CT Nursing Home Update: Union Staff Back to Work

medicalLast summer nursing home staff at several unionized Connecticut Healthbridge facilities went on strike. We covered the story of alleged abuse by some of the workers here at Conservative Daily News.  According to police reports some of the striking workers vandalized patient records and changed arm bands on patients to cause confusion for the replacement staff.

This week a federal judge has ordered the striking staff reinstated. The ruling comes despite objections of Lorraine Mulligan a registered nurse who was hired to evaluate the impact on patient care and felt rehiring these workers might put patients health in jeopardy.

From the Free Beacon: “The nature and severity of the … incidents … put the safety, health, and well-being of the residents of those facilities in immediate jeopardy,” she said. “A court order requiring the reinstatement of any of them or additionally those who had knowledge of sabotage and failed to act would expose the residents to immediate danger and put them at risk of suffering serious harm or death.”

As reported in July, Connecticut state police are conducting a criminal investigation into the vandalism though no charges have been filed and the company has filed a separate federal lawsuit alleging that the union engaged in intimidation tactics.

CT Post: Union spokeswoman Deborah Chernoff called the labor relations board decision “a very big deal and something that doesn’t happen very often. It’s a complete confirmation and vindication of everything we’ve been saying all along.”

She said the union plans to meet with all the striking workers Wednesday and start taking steps to get them all back to work.

CT Post: Healthbridge spokeswoman Lisa Crutchfield stated the company will appeal the injunction referring back to the summer’s vandalism: “The acts of criminality committed against our residents by some of those going out on strike on July placed our residents in serious jeopardy, and we find it unfathomable that these individuals would be returned to care for our residents before those responsible are identified and prosecuted.”

She said the acts of sabotage are the subject of an ongoing investigation by Connecticut’s chief state’s attorney.

Employees are looking forward to the prospect of returning to work but there may be some question how long the homes will remain open. When the HealthBridge lawyers argued against the injunction they said all of the unionized nursing homes were losing money. In light of the continued reduced reimbursements coming to Medicaid and Medicare through the Affordable Care Act it is expected that the nursing homes will continue to struggle.

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