More than 2,000 Pennsylvania nursing home workers protested Wednesday in front of more than 32 facilities statewide in a push for better wages, staffing and job standards.
Providers say the requests would be a tall task for operators without any additional Medicaid funding, which operators say is a long time coming.
“Years ago, long-term care competed against hospitals and other healthcare services,” Zach Shamberg, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Health Care Association said. “Today we’re competing with Sheetz and Walmart and Wawa.”
The simultaneous protest was organized by the SEIU Healthcare PA, with another planned for May 25 at the state capitol building.
Survey data by the union shows that 96% of nursing home workers in the state say they don’t have the staffing necessary to provide the quality of care they would like to residents.
The union also reported that in some cases, workers are caring for more than 20 people on a shift, all while turnover is increasing.
The group has called for no nursing home worker in the state to make less than $16 an hour.
“Caregivers are burning out, getting hurt, and leaving these jobs. They’ve had enough, and it’s time for the legislature to pass the sustainable, accountable funding our seniors and workers need,” Matthew Yarnell, president of SEIU Healthcare PA, said in a statement Wednesday.
Shamberg added that Medicaid reimbursement rates in the state haven’t increased since 2014 and that’s a main barrier toward improvements for both providers and workers.
“That can’t happen anymore, especially after the last two years” of the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.