By KEVIN MADDEN
Nursing home workers and community supporters called for more oversight and accountability of out-of-state nursing home owners at a rally last week at Beauvais Rehab and Healthcare Center in St. Louis.
The event was part of a national call to action in 13 states from New York to California including Missouri and Illinois — by Service Employees International Union Healthcare.
“We’ve got national solidarity in pushing our issues all across the country,” SEIU Healthcare President Greg Kelley told the crowd at Beauvais, which is at Magnolia and South Grand.
About 80 workers, politicians and community activists attended the Beauvais rally, which served to kick off a series of actions targeting long-term care facilities in the metro area, said Laura Barrett, Missouri campaign coordinator for SEIU Healthcare.
Kelley called for St. Louis and St. Louis County to investigate out-of-state nursing home owners and their practices.
RESOLUTION TO BE FILED THIS WEEK
At the rally, 6th Ward Alderman Christine Ingrassia told the crowd she would introduce a resolution this week establishing a special investigative committee at the St. Louis Board of Aldermen.
The committee would concentrate on equitable pay, workplace safety and staff training, Ingrassia told the Labor Tribune. She is chair of the aldermanic Health and Human Services Committee.
Other local rallies were held last week at Hillside Manor in north St. Louis and Rancho Manor in Florissant.
Beauvais, Hillside, Rancho and Blue Circle Rehab and Nursing in north St. Louis all have been “bought by out-of-state owners who are hostile to unions” in the past two years, Barrett said. The union currently is in contract negotiations at the facilities.
SEIU Healthcare views its actions as supportive of President Joe Biden’s commitment to improving nursing home working conditions “that have undermined safe, quality care and contributed to chronic industry-wide shortages, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.
A PATHWAY TO ACCOUNTABILITY
Proposals by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) “lay out a pathway for accountability in the industry,” Barrett said. “It’s a first step in addressing decades of profit-driven short-staffing, poverty wages and lack of corporate accountability that has led to the crisis in care and contributed to racial disparities within our nation’s nursing homes.
“With locals across the country uniting and speaking with one voice, we can help make (the CMS proposals) a reality,” Barrett said.
SEIU representatives have met with CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure at various events to drive home the union’s demands over the past few weeks, she said.