Guest Column: River Bluff Nursing Home: ‘The rest of the story’

I am a maintenance worker at River Bluff Nursing Home and am also on the executive board of AFSCME Local 743, and serve as a union steward at River Bluff. I only tell you this because I want you to understand that I am not a puppet sent to you by the administration at the nursing home. I am quite often at odds with them.

I believe in what is fair for the residents, the employees and the employer. I am proud to be a member of a great union that fights hard for its members. I am also proud to say I work at the best nursing facility I have ever set foot in or even heard of, for that matter.

On a daily basis, I observe our administrator chatting with the residents in the dining room, more often than not calling them by name. Not an easy feat with as many residents as we have.

If all this serious abuse is going on, why am I kept busy representing employees accused of improper care, etc.? River Bluff has an unspoken policy that if they are going to err, they will err in favor of the resident.

Diane Bergquist [former admissions coordinator whose guest columns have appeared in previous issues of The Rock River Times] was my co-worker, my friend, and a fellow steward. I even admired her for standing up for what she believed in, but I do not agree with the articles I read in your paper one little bit. I think if you look long enough at something, you will see what you want to see, and if you tell others about what you have seen long enough, they will think they have seen it, too.

I have been at River Bluff since Nov. 19, 2002, and I have been a certified steward for a little more than two years. I am constantly on the units making repairs or on union business. My wife has been a CNA at River Bluff for more than 10 years, and neither one of us has witnessed this abuse, and neither one of us believes it to be true, and believe me, we are not the only ones that are upset by these articles.

Now, I can go any place in this great nation of ours and find disgruntled patrons, employees, ex-employees, residents or neighbors to back me on any cause I choose to make mine, and so could you or anyone else. So until you see it for yourself through your eyes, and not through mine or anyone else’s, give the residents who are content here a break, (which is the vast majority), and give our dedicated caregivers a break—they are a proud and dedicated group of people.

From management to the dishwashers, these residents are treated like family, because they are our family. And, as Paul Harvey would say, “and now you have heard the rest of the story!”

Jim Gander is a maintenance worker and union steward at River Bluff Nursing Home, the Winnebago County-run 304-bed nursing facility on North Main Street.

From the Nov. 9-15, 2005, issue

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