Kelly Ehlman, a 20-year Gracedale worker, admitted she was nervous as she stood in front of Northampton County Council last night. "I'm here about the staffing crisis that we face in Gracedale," she said, adding she was doing so "on behalf of the residents." She presented a petition with 200 signatures asserting a an employee shortage despite initiatives made by upper management.
Her petition calls on Council to investigate by obtaining the results of a family survey conducted by management, inquiring about the rise of employee resignations, re-assessing initiatives implemented by the Director of Nursing and "find a solution to what management has failed to accomplish."
Council President Ron Heckman suggested that she meet with Human Services Chair Lori Vargo Heffner, who agreed to discuss the mater with Ehlman.
Council member John Cusick also suggested she address her concerns with her union. "I have tried that; that's been void," responded Ehlman. "Out of desperation on my account I am here even though I face possible retaliation in the future."
She said that she recently visited one floor with two aides serving 50 residents on the 3-11 shift.
"Doyou have any specific recommendations that have not been tried?" asked Council member Matt Dietz.
Ehlman responded that the county has already doneseveral things she called ridiculous. She cited a short-lived attempt to eliminate per diem as well as the elimination of a staffing position on every floor.In addition, she said employees are pulled off floors for training.
"Whatever they are doing, the staffing crisis has worsened," Ehlman said of Gracedale administrators.
Heckman promised Ehlman she'd face no retaliation.