Swansea, MA – Workers at Country Gardens nursing home in Swansea held an informational picket in front of their nursing home today to call for hazard pay to compensate them for the ongoing risk of caring for COVID-19 positive residents while suffering from short staffing and lack of equipment.
According to the group, the facility was so short on staff during the COVID outbreaks, that they were relying on staffing agencies. Nurses from the staffing agencies earned $10/hr hazard pay and staffing agency CNAs and are earning $5/hr hazard pay. But the corporation, New York based Bear Mountain, refused to give hazard pay to their own employees, many of whom have been loyal to the facility for decades.
“Many of us have worked at Country Gardens for decades because taking care of our residents is more than a job, it’s a calling. But we are so exhausted after trying to keep our residents and families safe from COVID-19 without the staffing, supplies and pay we need,” said Dawn Nunes, who has worked as an RN at the facility for 15 years. “It is a slap in the face that Bear Mountain was paying agency staff more than its own employees who have risked our lives for our residents. We deserve fair hazard pay and respect.”
Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, frontline caregivers at the home have coped with multiple COVID-19 outbreaks. Around 20 COVID-related deaths have been recorded between the two Bear Mountain facilities (Country Gardens and Carvalho Grove).
“Working short-staffed in tight quarters with COVID patients has led to about half of the staff testing positive, many passing it to their families. The National Guard had to step in to provide care because the staffing situation is so dire.”
Frontline caregivers at Carvalho Grove in Fall River, also owned by Bear Mountain, held their own informational picket last month to demand hazard pay from the company.