Mouth That Roars

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself of National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the "MOUTH THAT ROARS" Column in the Sullivan County Post.

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July 16th, 2015

Address Adult Care Concerns

While members of Sullivan County Legislature are preoccupied with issues such as a new airport hanger, signing off on tax abatements awarded by the IDA, and continuing their agenda of backstabbing destructive backroom politics – They need to be reminded that they are also there to look out for the needs of our most vulnerable population.

Amongst that population are our senior citizens and it is the obligation of our officials to ensure that those requiring care receive it.

Sullivan County has always been praised for its commitment to our seniors and for the operation of our County Adult Care Facility in Liberty.

Tragically, that praise has continually diminished over the years.

Because of rising costs, Sullivan County has been on a mission to save taxpayers money in the operation of the nursing home. Some of these measures can jeopardize patient care.

County officials have even looked into measures such as privatization of our nursing home.

Our seniors have been loyal taxpayers in Sullivan County and it is the obligation of our elected officials to ensure that this population is protected.

Sullivan County Union Leader Sandra Shaddock is outraged with the way our County Government has been treating patients and employees at our adult care facility. She has been on a soapbox pointing out many flaws.

Shaddock claims patients are falling at an alarming level at the adult care facility – Something Health and Family Services Acting Commissioner Joe Todora denies.

It is quite obvious the smaller the staffing the greater the chance for accidents involving our fragile population.

Shaddock told me, “I have been for many years advocating for staff within various departments of Sullivan County. I assumed the role of Union Business Agent in the Winter of 2010. The County had experienced layoffs in 2008, 2009 and again slated for 2010 and 2011. It is important to note that there was much more happening than “layoffs” we had attrition – which is REALLY where the hurt happened.”

According to statistics released by Shaddock, in 2011 there were a huge number of layoffs in Sullivan County, but even worse is that is that in 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 there were no layoffs, but positions were cut through attrition.

Shaddock in an attack on our County Leadership said. “This has led to a variety of problems countywide. There is no succession planning. There is no training. There is no leadership. Very few managers are willing or have stood out to fight for their departments. For those that have, I commend you. As most still try to bury their heads in the sand and run below the radar.”

“While County workers have had to endure some very low wage increases, and dramatic increases to workload – based on the over 500 person reduction in the last six years – some management officials have seen increases that are simply unbelievable,” Shaddock added.

In fact, former County Manager David Fanslau advocated raising the salaries of certain executive positions to compete with the statewide work pool.

Shaddock said she was concerned that currently at Adult Care Facility there are two nursing assistants to care for 40 residents.

She asked, “If there is a two person lift – who is left? The nurse – who distributes medications and does treatments? If someone is being toileted, and a call bell sounds – Who answers it?”

“There is a breaking point, and we have hit it. People are getting hurt, both employees and residents. Then – they are running short, making mistakes and calling out!

People are calling out because they are burned out from all the overtime and mandates. Open shifts are open shifts, they have to be filled, as it is a 24 hour operation. There is no ability to leave the work to get done tomorrow,” Shaddock said.

“Look at the amount of workplace injuries that people are out for. The county has the ability to fill the position as contingent permanent for those titles, yet will leave the vacancy for a year – then they will do an article 71 or 72 to remove the employee for disability – then remove the position from the budget, after all they worked with it vacant for a year right?”

Shaddock claims Sullivan County needs a plan of action. She is also fearful New York State could close the facility.

“The Contract states that if the County privatizes the Adult Care Facility they have to find jobs for the staff. In the event the state or another body closes the facility that does not happen. The documents that are on the County website for the “monthly stats” show that the “billable” revenue streams all increased in the five months (January to June) with the exception of the Ault Day Care. If we are performing more billable services, why is the deficit between the expenses and the revenue increasing?”

Pointing to staffing issues – which leads to call outs – Shaddock claimed “There are those who have been disciplined for call outs, and some more that likely will be. However, it is hard to blame someone for calling out when they have filled in four or five shifts in two weeks, on top of their full time hours. They are literally dead on their feet. If they come to work that way and make a mistake or someone gets hurt – would that be the alternative?”

Shaddock said, “There has to be a way to fix this – But they (County Government) have to be a part of fixing it! Not simply turn a blind eye.”

Noting the hypocrisy of some of our legislators who use our seniors for their own political purposes, Shaddock said, “There was a time when Kathy LaBuda defended the Adult Care Center over the Sullivan County Airport, she said not a word when I asked if this was deliberate. Not one word.”

It is time our County Officials wake up and listen to Sandra Shaddock’s concerns.

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself on National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the “MOUTH THAT ROARS” Column in THE SULLIVAN COUNTY POST.

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