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Bloomfield Hills nursing home employees threaten strike over staffing, wages

Some nursing homes and long-term-care facilities say they're struggling to fill shifts as certified nursing assistants opt for unemployment benefits during the pandemic.
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Some nursing homes and long-term-care facilities say they're struggling to fill shifts as certified nursing assistants opt for unemployment benefits during the pandemic.

Staff at a West Bloomfield nursing home and rehab center say they’re prepared to strike if necessary.

Workers at SKLD nursing home said the facility is critically understaffed, and that’s compromising patient care. They say low pay is part of the reason staff turnover is so high, and they’re fighting for better wages too.

SKLD workers are not unionized. But workers are allowed to strike under federal law, though health care workers must provide employers with at least ten days’ notice.

Kasandra Kemp, a certified nursing assistant who said she’s worked at the facility for two years, said staff members try their best to provide compassionate care, but compassion isn’t enough.

“You want to make sure your patients are taking care of, and they've taken care properly,” Kemp said. “But when we're understaffed and we're overworked like that, it is inhumane to think that people can keep going.”

“We’re fighting for better pay and better staffing so that we can have a team. Because if we don’t, you’re taking the care out of health care,” she said.

According to data compiled by ProPublica from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, SKLD Bloomfield Hills has racked up $335,000 in fines for identified “deficiencies” since 2020. The facility has been listed for four months on a federal registry of potential "special focus facilities" that "have a history of serious quality issues or are included in a special program to stimulate improvements."

If the workers’ demands aren’t met, they would strike starting July eleventh. An SKLD administrator reached by phone declined to comment.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Radio in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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