'Who knows what's growing on everything?': Union blasts hospital cleaning staff shortage

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The union representing workers at Catholic Health's Mercy Hospital of Buffalo (N.Y.) is urging the hospital to address a shortage of cleaning staff, according to news station WKBW.

Jackie Ettipio, RN, president of CWA Local 1133, cited shortages of respiratory therapists, as well as dietary department and transport department workers, but particularly addressed cleaning staff.

"We're getting through a big pandemic where everything is so contagious. Who knows what's growing on everything because it hasn't been cleaned appropriately?" she told WKBW.

Now, she said, the cleaning staff shortage has become a safety issue. She called on the hospital to fill more environmental services positions and to provide help for current workers.

A representative for Catholic Health stated in a June 14 news release that the health system has faced challenges filling service positions because of labor shortages related to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"While we believe this is a temporary market condition that will improve as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, we continue to look for opportunities to recruit and retain individuals for these important positions," the health system said. 

A job fair is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 16 at Mercy Hospital of Buffalo for environmental services positions such as cleaning staff. 

The health system said it will also be recruiting during the D'Youville College Health Professions Hub neighborhood block party June 17 in Buffalo, as well as participating in other local job fairs.

"Until additional EVS staff can be hired, we continue to focus our efforts on maintaining a clean environment by offering both vacancy bonus pay and overtime pay, where applicable, for workers picking up additional shifts; having management and supervisory personnel temporarily fill vacant EVS positions; and looking at contracting with a commercial cleaning agency for per diem staff," said Catholic Health. 


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