Presidential hopeful works shift as facility nursing aide
Nursing homes and their workers received an unprecedented jolt of exposure recently when presidential candidate John Edwards decided to work a morning shift as a nurse's aide at a New York facility.Edwards, who was a nominee for vice president in 2004, helped deliver breakfast, shaved a resident and performed other personal care duties at the Sarah Neuman Nursing Home in Mamaroneck.
"It's important for the president of the United States to understand how difficult these jobs are, and how important they are," Edwards said.
Dressed in jeans and a blue work shirt, he used the occasion, which drew a flock of reporters and cameramen, to promote his healthcare proposal. His plan would help cover long-term care costs, he said, and would largely be funded by rolling back tax cuts for upper-income individuals.
Veteran nursing aide Elaine Ellis, a union activist and Democrat who makes $14 per hour, accompanied Edwards on early rounds April 11.
"I think all politicians should take a page from his book," she told reporters.
Edwards was participating in "Work a Day in My Shoes," a program sponsored by the Service Employees International Union. The program introduces presidential candidates to the daily life of frontline workers.
A former U.S. senator from North Carolina, Edwards was trailing front-runners Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama in the Democratic polls at press time. But he was running strong in Iowa, where the first primary will be held in January.