The Strength of Our Health Care Workers
President and Chief Executive Officer
The Strength of Our Health Care Workers
Health care facilities faced great challenges from Hurricane Irene as it swept into the New York metropolitan area last weekend.
Nursing homes and hospitals in low-lying coastal areas of New York City were ordered to evacuate their residents and patients.
Other health facilities on higher, safer ground that had space were taking in these needy and vulnerable evacuees. Still others were activating their emergency response plans in order to assure the safety and well-being of those they serve who were staying put in their homes and in care facilities of various types.
Throughout all the turmoil, disruption and uncertainty, there was one group that stood tall and steadfast in responding to the needs of the huge number of frail, ill and disabled persons needing support and help during the weather emergency.
That group was made up of the thousands of health care workers across the City of New York, whose sacrifice and dedication to make sure that the people they care for were attended to and protected just cannot be overstated.
They were home care workers seeing to it that patients and clients were safe before the storm hit, and making visits over the weekend to provide medications, support and treatments in the homes of frail and disabled persons.
They were case managers who made sure that others living in the community were secure and had what they needed.
They were nursing home staff members – certified nursing assistants, nurses, doctors and other caregivers – who never left their posts for the duration of the hurricane emergency.
At VillageCare, we serve individuals with great needs, both in our residential programs, including two nursing homes and an assisted living residence, and in various community-based services.
Without the commitment, determination and selflessness of our staff, we would not have been able to assure the safety and well-being of the many frail and vulnerable persons we serve.
The willingness of our health care staff, for example, to stay on-site at our facilities and to work many extra hours helped make certain that we would be able to provide the appropriate and needed care.
Workers were called upon to wear many different hats, and to do jobs and perform duties outside of what would be their normal work duties. Throughout the Hurricane Irene emergency, they never complained or refused to do a task at hand.
They were supportive of each other. Most importantly, they were a reassuring presence to patients and residents, calmly going about doing whatever was right and necessary. They were cheerful as they went about their tasks.
It is humbling, I think, to see the dedication of health care workers who are willing to give so much to make sure that those in their care are protected.
Unfortunately, this is an era when these very same workers are facing great uncertainty.
As resources become more scant, government is cutting back. It is providing less financial support for care providers who operate institutional and residential settings, as well as for community-based programs. When you add to that the impact and stress of these difficult economic times, significant reductions in these services seem unavoidable. Here in New York, and elsewhere, health services are already being redesigned to reduce care in order to trim spending.
These changes will have an impact on health care workers, very likely thinning their ranks.
With an economy that continues to struggle along, combined with demands for reduced health care spending, cuts in care programs are inevitable, it seems. If we don’t think through the impact of these cuts, however, they will ultimately create for us another serious predicament.
These are critical services that are needed by so many individuals, and reductions and curtailments raise the prospect of hurting their health, their well-being and their quality of life.
The many persons who have chosen to work in health care – particularly those who provide direct care to patients, residents and clients – are an amazing and wonderful group. They truly care for the needs of others.
Every day, as they go about their caregiving routine, I am honored to have the opportunity to work with them.
When crisis strikes, and I see how willingly they give of themselves for others, I am proud of the fact that I am associated with these individuals whose strength and determination always win the day.
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