BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The president of CWA Local 1133, the union representing workers at Mercy Hospital of Buffalo, said the hospital is facing a shortage of workers across the board.
"Of course you've got the nurses, they're low staffed. Respiratory is desperately short staffed. We need respiratory therapists like crazy. Our dietary department is short. Our transport department is short, pretty much everywhere you go," Jackie Ettipio, president of CWA Local 1133, said.
Ettipio said her biggest concern is the shortage of environmental services positions (EVA) or cleaning staff.
"We're getting through a big pandemic where everything is so contagious, and now it's like a third world country. You're walking in and knowing there's chances. Who knows what's growing on everything because it hasn't been cleaned appropriately?" Ettipio said.
Photos sent by anonymous staff show overflowing trash and piles of linens. Ettipio said there's dirt and blood left on the floor.
"Now, we're to the point that safety is an issue. There's very highly communicable what we call nosocomial infections. It's the one infection you can prevent. It's your MRSAs, staph, pseudomonas, E. coli. Those are all contact. You touch something and you get it," Ettipio said.
That's why Ettipio said the hospital needs to fill more environmental services positions.
"Now the nurses are stuck cleaning the beds and doing this when they're already short staffed. The [environmental services] people are completely burned out," Ettipio said.
A representative for Catholic Health said in a statement, "Like many employers locally and across the country, Catholic Health has had difficulty filling service positions within its organization due to pandemic-related labor shortages."
But Ettipio said that's not true because she knows people are applying.
"They hired a total of four in April after getting 35 applications and 8 in March after getting 54 applications," Ettipio said.
A representative for Catholic Health said they will be hosting a job fair at the hospital specifically for environmental services positions Wednesday, June 16th from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The representative said until more spots can be filled, they will be offering vacancy bonus pay and overtime pay for workers picking up additional shifts. The representative also said management and supervisory personnel will fill vacant positions and the hospital will be looking into contracting with a commercial cleaning agency.