Union, Advocacy Group Allege Understaffing in Nursing Home Lawsuit
The California Alliance for Retired Americans and Service Employees International Union Local 250 last week filed a lawsuit against Ensign Group alleging that 26 of its nursing home facilities violated state health and safety codes by understaffing during 2003, the Los Angeles Times reports. According to the suit, Ensign nursing homes sometimes provided 2.82 skilled nursing hours per resident per day, less than the state minimum requirement of 3.2 hours per resident per day.
The lawsuit seeks an injunction that possibly would impose fines for violations of state law and would require the facilities to increase the number of staff and provide financial restitution for harm to residents.
Ensign spokesperson Greg Stapley said, "I've seen the list (of facilities named in the suit) and none of it is accurate," adding, "This is the second time they've filed a lawsuit, and it's just another attempt by this union to harass these facilities and their employees for refusing to unionize." Stapley said Ensign will "defend this lawsuit vigorously."
An earlier lawsuit filed against Northern California's Sonoma Healthcare Center was settled out of court, according to Stapley. The workers at that center currently are represented by the union.
SEIU Local 250 spokesperson Jennifer Kelly said, "A large number of [Ensign's] nursing homes over the past year have operated below California's minimum requirements for staffing." She added, "When a home short-staffs, you see an increase in patient injuries or falls; unexpected weight loss, because they have no help eating; and patients who have bed sores or open wounds because they're not being turned every three hours. You also have a higher number of residents strapped into chairs or beds because there isn't enough staff to monitor people who may be at risk for falls" (Haldane, Los Angeles Times, 10/16).