Much has been in the paper about the Steuben County Health Care Facility of late. For those who don't know, they are talking about outsourcing the maintenance, dietary, housekeeping and fiscal departments, and eventually selling our fabulous nursing home.
I have heard our facility described as "a country club" or "The Hilton" of nursing facilities. I have worked there for almost eight years and I think they're not far from the mark.
I have worked as both a certified nurse's assistant and currently as an activities aide. I have had the privilege of working closely with my residents and have developed wonderful relationships with them.
To say that I am worried for our residents is an understatement. Our residents are people who have had many children, worked their entire lives, lived through the Depression, lived through war and drafts of both their children and themselves, and now they are facing the possible sale of the home they live in. They have already given up so much; many have lost their spouses, some have lost children and none of them have the home they worked their entire lives for. Instead, they have us, the people who work at the Steuben County Health Care Facility.
If we were outsourced, meaning they would hire different companies to come in and do the work at the lowest bid, there would be different people coming and going all the time. The maintenance people they are used to could be switched with a grumpy worker who could very well hire by the minute. Many of our residents know our maintenance crew by name and have good relationships with them.
The dietary department is no different; I have seen many workers talk with our residents and have good relationships with them. Our housekeeping staff does an excellent job; many people coming into our facility remark on how clean it is, and that there is no odor. Even the fiscal department, which is located all the way on the bottom floor by the lobby, doesn't go unnoticed. They don't work where the residents live, yet many of our residents know them by face or even name.
Outsourcing is just the tip of the iceberg. If they decide to sell, many or all of us could be out of jobs. I know there is a public worker stereotype; many people think county workers receive humongous paychecks and have time to take an afternoon nap. Last year, I made less than $35,000. Yes, the benefits are excellent, but we're not all stuffed shirts. We are regular people like you, trying to get by. Where are we going to go when we are out of jobs? The unemployment line. Social services. Medicaid. The end result of 100-plus workers out of jobs could be astronomical to the area.
I invite anyone to come and see our level of commitment, see how happy our residents are - because it is you, the taxpayers, who own this facility. Be the judge of whether our residents deserve to have a wonderful place to live, and I hope you are as committed to caring as we are. I also invite our legislators to come and take a look, meet our people and make an informed decision.