Amityville: Nursing Home Employees Fight For Better Conditions

Employees 1
Kenny Forman/Long Island Press

The Massapequa Center Rehabilitation & Nursing in Amityville is faced with a problem. Employees say that patients aren’t receiving the best care possible, and the workers aren’t being treated fairly.

“We’re fighting to get a lot of issues resolved,” said licensed practical nurse Carolyn Pickett.

Many other employees of the facility joined Pickett on Oct. 19 from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m., gathering outside the building just outside the parking lot, holding up signs as cars drove by. They say that the medical equipment they are provided with does not align with the needs of the patients, and are growing increasingly frustrated that their concerns are not being heard. 

“There’s mold in the building that they’re actually covering up painting, not removing,” said Pickett. “We have equipment that’s not safe for the patients. The equipment is unsafe for the staff to use.”

Employees 1
Kenny Forman/Long Island Press

Another concern that Pickett, who has been working there for 32 years, has is the mistreatment of employees. She says that she is unhappy that management feels a need to have temporary agency workers.

“They mistreat the staff,” she said. “They write us up for minimum things that we shouldn’t be written up for. They’re writing people up if they stay after their time slot.”

The nursing home workers, who are members of the union 1199SEIU (United Healthcare Workers East), say that they hope that management can see their demonstrations. They want changes to be made sooner than later. The union announced the demonstration in a media advisory, stating, “At issue is management’s refusal to address employee concerns about medical equipment and the use of temporary agency staffers.”

“We want them to come and sit down,” said Diana Branch, a nurse at the facility. “Talk with us. Basically, they already know what needs to be done. We are actually holding them accountable to get these things and our requests done.”

Although the demonstration may have seemed like a strike at first glance, all the employees are still actively working. Many of them were either on a break, or on their day off. Their priority is making sure the patients are safe and secure, and they want management to be on board with that as well.

“I am very concerned,” said Eugenia Francis, a nursing assistant. She has been working at Massapequa for 23 years. “How can they get up without a Hoyer? How can we do a transfer without a lift?”

She said that without a working Hoyer lift, she is unable to get some patients out of bed. 

“We’re just asking you guys to come fix it, so that we can do our work better,” she said. 

Even if their voices aren’t heard right away, the workers will continue to fight until their demands are met.

“This will not stop,” added Branch. “It will not cease until what we are owed is done. That’s it. There’s no question in that.”

Related story: Health Care Workers Go On 11-Day Picket at Cold Spring Hills Nursing Home

Employees 5
Kenny Forman/Long Island Press