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Letter: Staffing is the key to good nursing care

Lou Michel’s investigative report on Absolut at Aurora Park was well researched and desperately needed.

Our loved one and family member, Betty, was a resident at this facility. As a regular visitor, I had ample opportunity to observe the conditions and patient care. As a registered nurse, I was able to discern standards of care.

Conditions at the facility are indeed horrendous and unforgivable. This is clearly not the fault of the staff. On one occasion, I asked a nurse about the nurse/patient ratio. She replied, “There are just two nurses to 60 patients.” This is staggering and appalling. The answer to the nightmare at Absolut is staffing, staffing, staffing.

Yes, bonuses and pay increases are long overdue and much deserved. But no amount of money will ever enable the skeleton staff to move any faster or more efficiently to adequately care for the overwhelming needs of the numbers of high acuity patients. At each visit, I observed nursing assistants breathlessly racing to push, pull or drag three patients per staff member on and off elevators to take them to the dining hall. This practice is ridiculous and dangerous.

Without exception, all of the staff was so kind and attentive to Betty. Her fingernails were always painted beautifully and her styled attractively. Various staff would regularly stop by to spend time with her. Betty was one of the “younger” clients and although she was immobile, she was able to request help which was graciously provided.

Sadly, we lost her last November and we miss her terribly. We will always be grateful for the compassion shown to her by the staff who were clearly working under impossible conditions. It shouldn’t require months of investigating to expose the obvious solution – not just adequate but rather excellence in staffing.

Maureen Emerling, RN

Orchard Park

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