HARTFORD, Conn. - A "Spectrum of Shame" speakout by family members and friends of residents at Park Place nursing home marked the 65th day of a strike by nearly 400 District 1199 health care workers against four Vernon-based Spectrum Healthcare. facilities. At a press conference outrageous stories were told of the poor care since the strike began.
Ana Ruiz said she visits her brother at Park Place regularly. She worries that he is losing weight. She used to visit other patients who did not have loved ones, but since the strike she was ordered by Park Place staff not to speak to any other patients. She said they are wrong if they think she will "make trouble" for the home. She only wants to provide some much-needed companionship.
Bonnie Becker, whose mother is in Laurel Hill in Winsted, also testified. Due to lack of care, she said, her mother was left to lie in her own urine until she got a visit from her other daughter.
David Zile, a patient at Park Place, also spoke out. He said that since the strike began, "twice I almost got the wrong medications."
Maria Rodriguez, daughter of Emiliano Robles, said her father has been crying a lot, every day, since the new "replacement" workers came.
Risalina Miranda, daughter of Maria Miranda, said "My mother needs help to the bathroom, but no one is doing anything to help her."
Other stories of the shame at Spectrum Healthcare's nursing homes have been posted at www.SpectrumFamilyVoice.com.
The strikers have won the respect of family members who value the care the workers gave to their loved ones and understand that the administration forced the strike.
In a victory for the union last week, the state Department of Labor ruled that all the striking workers are now eligible to receive unemployment benefits. State law prohibits strikers who have not been locked out by their employer from receiving unemployment benefits, but there are exceptions.
Spectrum Healthcare hired permanent replacement workers during the strike. Union workers were told they would not automatically be given their jobs back if they returned, but would be placed on a "recall list." As a result the state Department of Labor ruled that the striking workers "had been permanently replaced, and that their unemployment was no longer due to the existence of a labor dispute."
Community members and members of other unions have been stopping by the picket lines between 6 a.m. and midnight every day. Strike locations are:
Birmingham Health Center, 210 Chatfield Street, Derby
Hilltop Health Center, 126 Ford Street, Ansonia
Laurel Hill Healthcare, 106 East Lake Street, Winsted
Park Place Health Center, 5 Greenwood Street, Hartford.
Photo: Carmen Boudier, president of District 1199 union, center, walks the picket line with the striking Spectrum workers. (PW/Tom Connolly)