In a perfect world, Cynthia Williams would never leave B-Unit at the St. Camillus Health and Rehabilitation Center. She would constantly be providing care while watching over all the residents and certified nurses aids.
If nurse supervisor Jeffery Emlaw had his way, all of the CNAs on his unit would be exactly like Williams.
“I would like to clone her,” Emlaw said. “If I could have 10 more of her that would be wonderful; I’m grateful for Cynthia.”
Emlaw said CNAs are employed as the main hands-on caregivers for the residents. Emlaw explained that a CNA’s job is to dress, toilet, and assist with feeding, and anything else the residents need to function on a daily basis.
“I rely on Cynthia as a right hand person,” Emlaw said. “She sees things on a first hand basis that I might not get to or be able to see.
Ellen Somers, the Alzheimer’s services coordinator at St. Camillus, said like a lot of nursing homes, St. Camillus is not adequately staffed, but the employees work hard to provide proper care for the residents.
Williams is one of St. Camillus Health and Rehabilitation Center’s CNAs that does her best to provide proper care for the residents even though her workload is double the standard amount.
“All I would like to see is more people to help us on the units,” Williams said. “There are four CNAs on a unit with 40 residents, where it should be one CNA to every five residents.”
Most CNAs have particular residents that they care for every time they work, Somers said.
“The CNAs do some of the most intimate type of care for the residents, so a lot of times they become like their family,” Somers said.
“All the residents are my family,” Williams said. “Some days I walk in the door sad and they put a big smile on my face.”
“I had one lady that asked me to come in and do her showers on my days off, and I did it because this job is about love and caring for these people,” Williams said.
Emlaw admitted that even though he and his staff do their best to provide a high level of care for St. Camillus’ residents, they too have failed certain aspects of the Department of Health’s annual inspections.
“St. Camillus does their part very well,” Williams said. “Every facility has their breaking points, but all the years that I have been here St. Camillus has treated their residents very well.
Williams said the residents are always doing activities and St. Camillus has many programs to make sure the residents are not lying down all day or bored.
Sharon Thomas, a volunteer caregiver for Ted Purtell who is a resident at St. Camillus, said, “This is a good place.”
“I know people who have had family in other nursing homes and they didn’t like this or they didn’t like that,” Thomas said. “None of these places are perfect.”
Nursing home neglect and abuse is an all too common occurrence according to the American Health Care Association (AHCA), which is a non-profit federation of affiliated state health organizations that represents anyone in the long-term-care community.
The AHCA reported one-third of all nursing homes have some type of on-going neglect or abuse.
Northwoods Rehabilitation and Extended Care Facility in Troy, N.Y. is a nursing home with cases of neglect and abuse pending against it. During a six-week period in 2009, 13 employees falsified patient records to cover up the lack of proper care, according to the Behavioral Health Central website, which is a news organization that reports on health related topics.
With family members’ consent, New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and his investigators placed hidden cameras in the resident’s rooms at Northwoods, according to the AHCA. The hidden cameras led to all 13 arrests.
The seven certified nurses aides from Northwoods that are on trial failed to turn and toilet residents causing them to develop bedsores and forcing them to lay in their feces during the CNA’s eight-hour shift, according Buffalo, N.Y. television station News 4, WIVB.
“A CNA’s job is not for everyone,” Williams said. “In order to be a good CNA you have to be caring.”
There were also six licensed practical nurses from Northwoods on trial for failing to administer proper medications and treat the bedsores created by the nursing home’s CNA staff, according to a News 4 report.
A nurse’s primary job responsibilities, however, are to administer medication and to perform treatments on the residents for anything from skin issues to changing dressings after surgery, Emlaw said.
“Some people in this career field do their job for the paycheck,” Williams said. “They have to acknowledge that one day they may have cancer or be paralyzed. They never know what’s going to happen, so they need to put in their mind that they’re going to treat these people how they want to be treated, which is loved. I put a lot into my job because I want to be loved the same way.”