Strike-related sabotage may have risked lives of nursing home residents

    Attorney General George Jepsen

    Striking nursing home employees who recently received the support of Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy on the picket line allegedly risked the lives of elderly residents when they removed medical id bracelets and committed other acts of disruption, according to a statement from HealthBridge Management.

    According to HealthBridge, owner of the five nursing homes where workers are striking, most of the incidents were of the most serious two kinds under Department of Public Health classifications.

    LaborUnionReport first disclosed the incidents based on police reports from multiple departments.

    These incidents occurred in the hours leading up to the strike, which began on July 3. Although no arrests have been made, the timing led police to speculate there may be a connection between the strike and the sabotage.

    In Danbury, indentifying wrist bands were removed as were ids on room doors and wheelchairs.

    In Newington, where Malloy joined the strikers, suspects had mixed up name tags on doors in the Alzheimer’s ward, removed identifying photos from medical records and discarded dietary stickers.

    In Stamford, someone shattered a washing machine’s glass door.

    Workers are also on strike in Milford and Westport.

    Similar incidents occurred during a 2001 SEIU strike against a different employer.

    Malloy’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    Malloy recently criticized HealthBridge for “unfair labor practices” and joined strikers from Service Employees International Union 1199 on the picket line.

    “These types of tactics are unacceptable,” he said in a statement.

    According to HealthBridge, Attorney General George Jepsen turned its officials away when they sought to file a complaint about union activities at their nursing homes.

    Instead, Jepsen joined the strikers on the picket line Tuesday.

    Jepsen’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

    “It is unfortunate enough that Attorney General Jepsen and Governor Malloy have chosen to take sides in this strike,” said HealthBridge spokesman Lisa Crutchfield.

    “We regret that both have given in to the SEIU monopoly, and that they have lent such public support to a Union that delayed and stalled for almost a year and a half in contract negotiations, then did not hesitate to tell its members to abandon residents in this work action,” she said. “But for the state’s chief executive and chief law enforcement officer to spend time walking a picket line and giving media statements instead of instructing the Attorney General’s office to investigate and prosecute criminals who put elderly residents at risk is, to quote the Governor, ‘unacceptable.’”

    “The safety and care of our residents is our prime concern,” Crutchfield said. “We cannot expose our residents to the risk of any harm at the hands of the Union members who were responsible for these acts.”

    “Until such time as the culprits are identified and prosecuted, unfortunately we will not be able to allow the striking employees to return to work,” she said. “The Chief States Attorney should conduct a complete investigation of this criminal conduct.”

    Crutchfield also asked Malloy to appoint an independent investigator because Jepson “compromised his impartiality.”

    According to the Courant:

    “Last month, HealthBridge unilaterally terminated workers’ pensions, increased their health care premium costs from nothing to at least $795 a year, and for those with family plans, thousands of dollars a year, while only increasing their cash wages by 2.2 percent this year, 2 percent next year and 1.5 percent in the next four years.”

    HealthBridge has nursing homes in five other states.

    Update: Jepsen recuses himself.

    Luvumb says:

    Well said Jen!!!

    Jenn Chewy73 says:

    Did it ever occur to you people that Healthbridge is scrambling to look good in the publics eye since they broke the law by implementing an unnegotiated contract thinking they would get away with it but it backfired and city and state officials are finally realizing what a corrupt company Healthbridge is??!! I don’t believe those accusations because as an employee there myself I have heard many lies from them! We love our residents and would much rather be inside caring for them as we have for many years! Healthbridge should be ashamed of themselves and get out of this business because they absolutely put profit before patients!!!

    Good for Healthbridge! I used to pay nothing for insurance (as did many American’s I assume). I now pay about $400 a month for my family. Those same picketers probably voted for Obama and thought that everyone would get free health care. Grr, lazy people are amazing!

    catholic_citizen says:

    Is there proof of the tampering? If so, the police should certainly be called in to investigate. And if I were Healthbridge, I would hire some serious security and make sure that all the nurses stations were monitored with video and sound – tamperproof feeds.