Local Nursing Home Owners Fight Bed Bugs and Workers

Westwood nursing home in Keene has bedbugs. The home is licensed by the state to have 85 human residents. A city inspector found the bugs on November 21. On November 29, the nursing home was still trying to get rid of the bugs. Bed bugs drink human blood. They make people itchy. More information is at www.epa.gov/bedbugs.

"Few members of wealthy families are ever admitted to nursing homes because they can get all the services they need brought to them at home," according to Nobody's Home, a book by nursing home worker Thomas Gass. The book was published by Cornell University in 2005.

The government pays nursing homes to house poor and disabled people. Many nursing homes, including Westwood, are owned by corporations that pay their CEO millions of dollars a year.

Nursing homes "provide very little medical care-- indeed when a resident becomes seriously ill she is generally shipped off to a hospital," Gass writes. "One in three nursing home aides has not graduated from high school."

According to the book's back cover, as a nursing home worker, Gass made $6.90 an hour. "Seventeen of the 26 residents on Gass's hall were incontinent, and much of his initiation to the work was learning to care for them in the most intimate ways."

Gass concluded that allowing nursing home workers to form a union, paying them more, and making each worker responsible for fewer patients, would improve the dismal quality of life of many nursing home residents in the U.S.

One union that represents nursing home workers in Massachusetts is www.1199seiu.org.

A union that represents nursing home workers in New Hampshire is www.afscmecouncil93.org.

A union that represents nursing home workers in Vermont is www.ueunion.org.

Several owners of local nursing homes have fought efforts by their employees to form a union. A group that organizes community support for nursing home and other workers is Jobs With Justice (JWJ) www.jwj.org. Any member of the public can join JWJ.

You can prevent yourself from being kept alive against your will in a nursing home by filling out a form and putting it on file at your doctor's office. More information is at:



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