Fresh off his re-election, Executive Lamont McClure dominated last night's 48-minute meeting of Northampton County Council. In a lengthy presentation, he argued that Gracedale employees are adequately compensated while lamenting the lack of a living wage requirement in a St. Luke's bond for the rehabilitation of Easton Hospital. He also discussed the Covid vaccine at the jail and Gracedale,
Gracedale compensation. - McClure told Council that, though there's "a lot of talk about compensation being a barrier to us hiring, I don't think it is." He pointed out that salary plus benefits for lower end nursing staff is as follows: CNAs - $28.74 per hour; LPNs - $34.14 per hour; and RNs - $41,70 per hour.
He failed to state the stand-alone salary for these positions.
While he conceded that the pay is lower than at area hospitals, McClure explained that's because the county is a non-profit that relies on Medicare and Medicaid for most of its funding.
He also pointed out that the highest-paid workers in the county are at Gracedale.
Living wage. - While arguing that the compensation at Gracedale is adequate, McClure lamented the lack of a living wage requirement in a St. Luke's bond designed to help fund construction work at Easton Hospital. McClure said he would reluctantly endorse the bond over concerns raised by Council members Kevin Lott and Bill McGee, both of who are or were trade union representatives.
Lott and McGee had no concerns about the compensation at Gracedale.
Vaccines at Gracedale. - A federal vaccine mandate for health care workers, including nursing homes,has finally been announced. It goes into effect on January 4. McClure indicated that nearly all residents have been vaccinated, along with 65%b of the staff. Henoted there are zero Covid cases at the nursing home, which suggests to him that vaccines work.
Vaccines at the jail. - McClure indicated that 12 inmates currently have Covid. He noted that they are always tested when they first arrive, and positivity rate is only 0.08%. McClure reasons that inmates therefor must be contracting Covid after arrival. He noted that only 93 of 208 corrections officers have been vaccinated, This suggests that it is guards who are infecting inmates.
McClure noted that the County is not covered by OSHA and thus has no obligation to impose a vaccine mandate on all workers. The "only place a mandate is in place is Gracedale."
He expressed reservations about a mandate on the entire workforce.