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Monroe Community Hospital takes steps to address staffing problems

James Brown
Monroe County Executive addresses the press outside the main entrance at Monroe Community Hospital in April 2021.

Two weeks ago, members of the Monroe County Legislature’s Black and Asian Caucus released an anonymous letter they received which contained a bevy of complaints about Monroe Community Hospital Among the complaints: the hospital is understaffed, managers mandate double shifts at the last minute, and if someone refuses the extra hours, they get punished and sometimes fired. The hospital is run by Monroe County.

During a news conference at the hospital Monday, Monroe County Executive Adam Bello and Hospital Executive Health Director Alyssa Tallo said that the entire long-term care system is very short-staffed which hurts the staff and patients. They said the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated that problem and there are roughly 500 open positions at nursing homes in the area. 

Tallo said the hospital had not heard any complaints about retaliation prior to the news reports. Neither did Bello, who said none of the complaints about the hospital had reached his office. Both said they’d take those allegations seriously if they arose. 

“I actually had not heard direct complaints about retaliation, so I don’t know.” said Bello. “I am aware of the announcement you made, some people are going to play politics with nursing homes and Monroe Community College. I’m here to solve problems.

“What we’re doing today is taking a hard look at not just at the county facility, but what can we do community wide to make sure that working at a nursing home or a long term care facility isn’t just a job but a career.”

To that end, Tallo said they intend to take several steps to address staffing at the hospital. Tallo also said they are working with employee union CSEA on a transition to 12-hour shifts to help workers with their work-life balance. She said improvement is needed in the system but this is a good start.

“We care for human lives in long-term care,” said Tallo. “If our staff don’t have the help they need. It has serious consequences. And I think that speaks volumes when it comes to what kind of attention we need to put into this. 

On April 8, the County Civil Service Commission approved pay increases for all RNs, LPNs and CNAs. Tallo

Credit James Brown / WXXI News
Alyssa Tallo, leader of Monroe Community Hospital speaks at news conference in April 2021.

 said LPNs could make up to $30 an hour, CNAs would make up to $18 an hour. Information on RNs was not available.

Tallo also said the hospital has created new leadership opportunities to help keep experienced workers on staff, and is working with MCC to recruit new workers. They’re also looking for a recruiter that specializes in hiring nurses. Common Ground Health is convening a long-term care task force to address the nursing home staffing crisis.

A joint statement from the Black and Asian Caucus and Legislator Vince Felder said they’re happy that the whistleblower’s claims have been heard and would like to see them investigated further.

“We are glad that the Bello Administration has listened to the workers that voiced their concerns to us and it is a reminder that when somebody speaks up, they will be heard,” said Legislator Ernest Flagler-Mitchell.