IOWA CITY, Iowa (KWWL)– The Iowa City Rehab and Health Care Center serves as a nursing home for 53 patients. However, according to site staff, not only were they not paid after working during the holidays, but the site itself is unsafe.
Rachel Roos and Jessica Smith McDonald both began working as nurses at the facility on Dec. 15. They say they both worked during the holidays, including Christmas. However, when it came time for them to get their pay, it never came.
“Yes, we are nurses, we have been working a long time, we go to work every day, we show up and we do our job,” McDonald shared. “We do it to get paid. Yes, I love taking care of people, but I don’t put my kids aside to take care of other people without getting paid for it.
They say both have been put into financial trouble by the wait. When they asked management or parent company Arboreta Healthcare, the answers were unclear about when they will get their pay.
They are not alone, they say that everyone in the building, from the janitors to the administration, has not been paid. When he was reached for comment, Arboreta Healthcare CEO Louis Collier said
“We are transitioning to a new payroll company and have experienced an unforeseen logistical issue with our former supplier in processing their 2022 final payslip. We are truly sorry and are working to resolve this as soon as possible by offering additional compensation to employees concerned for this inconvenience and delay”.
However, both Roos and McDonald say the problems don’t end with payroll. McDonald says that although both were new hires just before the holidays, the center’s management had no problem leaving them in charge.
“For Christmas we were the only ones there without any training. We didn’t even have access to be able to enter the Pixis backup drug if there was an emergency and we had to enter there.
McDonald says he could handle the responsibilities somewhat because he has more than 15 years of experience in the healthcare industry, but Roos says he just started last year.
“This facility is not safe. I have only been a nurse for five months and they have left me alone with no training.”
Roos says when she brought these concerns to management they dismissed her. However McDonald says that in the past two weeks they have often been left running the building with just one nurse and 3 CNAs. Which she says is simply not feasible.
“There are residents from end to end with a nurse,” McDonald said. “It’s impossible to maneuver that building safely, let alone passing drugs, doing blood sugars, doing insulin, doing treatments for all those people. It’s not safe. It’s not safe for the residents and the residents suffer from it.”
McDonald went on to say it’s not just the staff. The building itself is in serious disrepair. With cracks between the windows for the ones that aren’t broken.
“There was snow on a resident’s bed. There are two beds in one room, when we had that big blizzard the resident sleeps in this bed and there was literally a snowdrift on this bed coming through the window .”
When asked about staff and building maintenance issues, the chief executive, Collier, said
“In a very difficult time, we work daily to ensure that staffing ratios are adequate as the industry continues to grapple with staffing challenges. We implemented a new ‘hire and retention’ program at the end of October, with Iowa City as the one of the first facilities on the program.When this program was introduced, Iowa City had 29 open positions and currently has 3. Once all new hires are on board, staffing levels will be the best in years at Iowa City Rehab and Health Care Center.