Taking care: Short staffing at the care center

Posted 8/9/22

MONTICELLO, NY — For months, the Care Center at Sunset Lake and its management consultant Infinite Care have faced questions about the level of care they’re providing to Sullivan …

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Taking care: Short staffing at the care center


MONTICELLO, NY — For months, the Care Center at Sunset Lake and its management consultant Infinite Care have faced questions about the level of care they’re providing to Sullivan County’s residents.

Nicholas Salomone, chair of the legislature’s health and human services committee, conducted a tour of the care center with Sunset Lake LDC board member Albee Bockman and Teamsters Local 445 business agent Tom O’Connell. The three praised the facility as “spotless,” and stated that they came away affirmed in the county’s choice of Infinite Care as a managing consultant for the facility.

“There have been staffing challenges, but the dedicated crew that is there continues to ensure the health and safety of every resident,” said O’Connell.

Infinite Care managing partner Sol Klein and regional director of operations Katie Perez appeared at a July 21 meeting of the Sullivan County Legislature to give their own perspectives and answer questions about the facility’s operations.

Their comments focused largely on the issue of employee retention.

Infinite Care had hired upward of 80 employees for the facility, though some had left, said Klein. The company had invested in employee-appreciation efforts, and had implemented supports and tools for caregivers, including a point-and-click care system.

“Overall we’ve done as much as possible under the circumstances to try and make this facility a better facility, and provide better care to the residents,” said Klein.

Perez provided additional details about Infinite Care’s employee-retention efforts.

Infinite Care was holding job fairs and was working with regional schools to recruit students, said Perez. It was working with the county and with the union on pay structures, including a system for sign-on and referral bonuses. It was working as well on ensuring the employees they had in the facility felt valued, with measures such as an employee-of-the-month program.

Perez mentioned the facility’s food service as a particular point of concern; the food coming out of the facility’s kitchen wasn’t as good as it could be. Sullivan County posted a position for director of food services on July 27, the week following the meeting, seeking someone to manage the care center’s kitchen.

Legislative chair Rob Doherty thanked Klein and Perez for attending the meeting following their reports. He then turned the meeting over to Lou Setren, president of the care center’s family council, asking how he saw the situation.

“I’ve said all along that I think that amongst the options that were presented to you to choose a consulting agency, that Infinite Care was the best of the lot,” said Setren. Infinite Care had been receptive to the family council’s concerns during meetings between the council and administration.

Staffing concerns remained the primary issues for the facility, said Setren. “I know this is an industry-wide problem, but much more could be done for recruitment and retention.” Maintenance staff from the Sullivan County Department of Public Works working at the facility continue to earn more than direct-care personnel, incentivizing the former position over the latter.

Setren recommended that all the involved parties get together to discuss how they could resolve the facility’s staffing shortages.

Legislator Luis Alvarez said that, from talking with the staff, Infinite Care was doing a good job, but the shortage of personnel led to potential lapses in care. One night, there was only a nurse and a maintenance employee covering an entire floor, he said; other times, staff were working 12 hours a day, six or seven days a week.

“It seems to me like the last comments I read about the facility is how beautiful and how clean they were, but I’ve been attending your facility since 1984… that place has always been immaculately cleaned,” said Alvarez. “There’s no doubts in our mind that we never had a problem with the cleaning of the facility at all, but you do have a problem with the staff available.”

Klein stated that Infinite Care was working on that problem, and that more staff are on the way.

Infinite Care, Care Center at Sunset Lake, Sullivan County, care center, staffing


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