February 15, 2014

Letter: Certified Nursing Assistants deserve more

Hamilton Health Care is affiliated with all of the local nursing homes. Recently, I have noticed that all of the Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) who work in these facilities are over-worked and underpaid. They are responsible for most of the workload there.

Some CNAs are working up to 60 hours a week. They care for the residents with the utmost care. Their responsibilities include: Wiping bottoms all day, keeping briefs dry and clean, keeping the bedridden comfortable and turned regularly to prevent bed sores, feeding residents, passing out meal trays and taking care of requested beverages, gathering up meal trays and dishes after residents eat, bathing, grooming, and dressing residents, stripping dirty linens from beds and making them up with clean ones daily or every other day and sometimes more than once a day some residents due to illness, diarrhea or urine. They lift residents (some weighing 200 pounds or more), keep up with scheduled bathroom trips, perform light housekeeping by helping maintain a clean work environment and take out trash and dirty linens several times a day and dispose of them in bins outside and wear headphones all day that are used to document all of the care given in their scheduled shift.

As they do all of these things, they are continually answering call lights. Some of the residents are very demanding and require more attention than others. Also, the CNAs often have to deal with difficult and critical families who are continually ungrateful for the care received by the CNAs, even if the CNAs are going the extra mile by doing their job faithfully and with integrity.

Furthermore, as they go about their day with all of its demands and trials, they love, nurture and care for the residents by making them feel safe and secure with their surroundings.

The starting pay for a CNA is $8.59 an hour weekdays and $10.59 an hour for 12-hour weekend shifts. I would like to see a substantial increase in pay for CNAs. These facilities are too often concerned with their appearance. While they may have modern furniture and spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on Christmas decorations and other festivities, they are forgetting to take care of their CNAs. The ones who are maintaining quality care to the residents that keep the doors open and the facilities running for them.

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