County home residents, employees protest job cuts

With the blessing of county officials, Hayes is downsizing staff and expenses to save taxpayer money. The state mandates an activities director for a 60-bed facility, but not for one that is certified for a maximum of 48 residents. The home now has a population of 44 or so.

Hayes said she wasn't exactly popular not long after her arrival when she began trimming expenses, including asking staff members to start paying $2 for meals when they routinely helped themselves to food cooked in the home's kitchen. Her changes, she said, drastically cut food costs. Also, she cut some positions, and replaced them at far lower taxpayer cost with part-time help, she said, and shifted schedules and initiated cross-training to reduce expensive overtime - not a favored move with employees.

Park said Hayes displayed "extreme favoritism" to her relatives who worked at the home. But Hayes disputed the charge, noting she'd fired he own niece, and had been even-handed in handing out assignments to her sister Julie, who is still on staff.

Although employees have complained of the overtime Julie has worked, Hayes said her sister seemed to be available for Christmas, Thanksgiving and New Years, the days that other employees declined to be on duty.

Holding up a schedule, she showed that a roster of employees had similar assignments.

"I don't treat my sister any different," she said. "A good number of workers have relatives on staff, but I treat everyone as an individual."

Park said that if the staff levels were maintained, Countryside could boost its population back toward the 60-mark, saving the jobs of long-time employees. But Hayes said doing so would boost costs for taxpayers, as the county routinely picks up a hefty portion of the costs of care.

Park told supervisors Hayes wouldn't be able to handle the admissions and case management, as required by the state, by herself.

But Hayes said it would be no problem, considering she was formerly head nurse at Eden Park Nursing Home, and handled a caseload of 40.

"I'm no stranger to long hours," she said as she served milk and cookies to a group of residents who were playing a fast-paced game of Bingo for the residents who weren't on strike.

The supervisors passed a motion Friday to temporarily back off on eliminating the positions of Park and Perry, pending an evaluation of the situation at Countryside home.

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