AG chooses SEIU over patients

CONNECTICUT ATTORNEY GENERAL CHOOSES SEIU OVER THE HEALTH AND SAFETY OF NURSING HOME PATIENTS

Refuses to investigate strike-related sabotage

(DANBURY, CT - July 17, 2012)  In the hours leading up to the strike by the New England Health Care Employees Union, District 1199 SEIU (the Union) against five HealthBridge Management Health Care Centers in Connecticut, Union members engaged in multiple illegal and dangerous acts against Center residents.

Residents' wristbands were removed and discarded.  Names on patient doors and wheelchairs were changed.  Stickers indicating how residents could safely be fed were removed.  The names of residents in memory care units were switched.  The perpetrators took these actions deliberately, with the clear knowledge that they would put residents at severe risk of receiving the wrong medications, improper dosages of medications, or foods they should not eat.

These acts are among the most serious violations listed in the state's Public Health Code – considered class A and B violations, on a scale of A to F with A being the most serious – and fall within the responsibility of the Connecticut Department of Public Health.  They put some of Connecticut's elderly and most vulnerable residents in danger, and occurred at several different Centers across the State.  They also bear more than a passing resemblance to strike-related sabotage against nursing homes during a strike by the same Union in 2001, during which the Hartford Courant reported that "equipment and sterile medical supplies had been tampered with, patient identification bracelets were removed, drugs were missing and a door to a supply room containing oxygen had been glued shut."

Yet, when the Centers went to Attorney General George Jepsen's office to file reports, they were turned away and told that they could file reports with local police.

"It is unfortunate enough that Attorney General Jepsen and Governor Malloy have chosen to take sides in this strike," commented Lisa Crutchfield, spokesperson for the HealthBridge Management Health Care Centers.  "We regret that both have given in to the SEIU monopoly, and that they have lent such public support to a Union that delayed and stalled for almost a year and a half in contract negotiations, then did not hesitate to tell its members to abandon residents in this work action.  But for the state's chief executive and chief law enforcement officer to spend time walking a picket line and giving media statements instead of instructing the Attorney General's office to investigate and prosecute criminals who put elderly residents at risk is, to quote the Governor, 'unacceptable.'"

The incidents in 2001 were investigated promptly and thoroughly by Chief State's Attorney John M. Bailey, who, said the Courant, went on to conclude "in a damning report that many of the alleged incidents not only occurred but also were criminal."

"The safety and care of our residents is our prime concern," added Crutchfield.  "We cannot expose our residents to the risk of any harm at the hands of the Union members who were responsible for these acts.  Until such time as the culprits are identified and prosecuted, unfortunately we will not be able to allow the striking employees to return to work.  The Chief State's Attorney should conduct a complete investigation of this criminal conduct.

"Since the Attorney General has compromised his impartiality in this matter, we also call upon the Governor to appoint an independent Special Counsel to investigate the New England Health Care Employees Union, District 1199 for what appears to be their involvement in these serious incidents, given that the exact same conduct happened during the Union’s 2001 strike.  While some politicians do not take these depraved acts as seriously as we do, we will continue to focus on doing everything we can to ensure the safety and excellent care of the residents who call our Centers home."

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