Put People First! PA and SEIU Healthcare PA hold memorial, call for better care and wages outside of local nursing home
On Saturday afternoon about 20 people rallied outside of ManorCare Health Services – Pittsburgh, calling for better care for patients and better wages for workers at the facility. The protest was led by the family of Wanda Moore Evans, who passed away last year after receiving substandard care at the facility. Ms. Evans’ husband Bukari Bey and daughter Munroe Bey are leaders of Put People First! PA, a statewide grassroots organization working to ensure healthcare is treated as a human right in Pennsylvania. They were joined by other members of Put People First as well as members of SEIU Healthcare PA, a union representing nursing home workers throughout Pennsylvania.
Ms. Evans spent the last several weeks of her life at ManorCare, following a ruptured blood clot in her leg which left her on life-support. During her time at ManorCare, her personal hygiene was consistently neglected and she was hospitalized three times due preventable incidents. In one instance, she was hospitalized after being dropped by a staff person because the staff person was required to carry Ms. Evans by herself.
According to data collected by Medicare, the ManorCare Health Services – Pittsburgh provides 57 minutes less skilled nursing care staff time per patient, per day than the national average. Last year the facility was cited by the PA Department of Health for 10 deficiencies during one inspection.
At 2:00pm the group gathered on the sidewalk across the street from the nursing home. Munroe Bey was the first to speak, “We are here because in the last 30 days of my mother’s life she experienced the worst neglect: neglect that ultimately took her life. We are standing here for all of those who are concerned about the quality of care in nursing homes across the state of Pennsylvania. We are not going to tolerate abuse of elders.”
The group marched down the block chanting “People over profit,” and “We ain’t got no use for elder abuse”. They held signs reading ‘Dignity for our Elders’, ‘Dignity for Caregivers’, and ‘Black Lives Matter.’ Vespera Barrow, another leader of Put People First! PA, led the march across the street to the front of the ManorCare building, where she spoke through a bullhorn, “ManorCare is one of the largest nursing home chains in the country. They are making huge profits by providing a minimum standard of care, understaffing their facilities, and underpaying their workers.”
In 2006, HCR ManorCare’s CEO Paul Ormond received $17.3 million in total compensation, while Certified Nurse Assistants (CNAs) at ManorCare facilities make an estimated, $11.81 an hour on average. Ms. Barrow continued, “We are demanding that ManorCare increase staffing levels to above the national average, and that ManorCare pay all of its workers a living wage so they are fairly compensated to provide good care for our elders.”
The event concluded with the release of a dozen white balloons to memorialize Ms. Evans. As, the balloons floated away Ms. Evans’ husband Bukari Bey spoke, “We all love you and we miss you so much Wanda. And we are just going to keep on fighting baby.”