Rolling with the Punches

Chapter 1 Member Supports Nursing Home Staff Who Care for Her Husband

“You have to roll with the punches,” Dana Aloise used to always say to his wife of more than 40 years, Thea. Little did either of them know how life changing the punches could be.

A little over a year ago, Dana, who is a retired bus and truck driver and an Army veteran, became a resident at Belknap County Nursing Home. “He has dementia,” said Thea, a member of SEA’s Chapter 1. “Over the last five years, he had gradually been getting worse.”

Thea had been able to care for her husband at home until he developed an infection that caused him to be hospitalized.

“That was in January or February of 2013,” Thea said. “While he was in the hospital, he became confused and agitated. He was very difficult to handle.”

That was the impetus for a team of medical providers at Lakes Region General Hospital to intervene and to convince Thea that her husband would require round the clock care for the rest of his life and that she could not provide this care alone.

“They were right,” she said. “Dana had begun to fall frequently and I didn’t have the strength to help him up. It was a very difficult decision and I felt a lot of guilt about putting him in a nursing home. I still do, but it is a great comfort to me to know that he is getting excellent care at Belknap County Nursing Home. And, his condition has stabilized.”

“He is getting a lot of loving care there,” she said. “The team that cares for him around the clock is very attentive and provides little extras all the time. For instance, one of his nurses noticed he was a bit low on shirts, so she brought in a supply of extra shirts for him. That wasn’t part of her job description, I’m sure.”

In addition to receiving resident care, Dana is also being provided rehabilitative therapy. “They are working with him to walk.  He can now get around a bit with a walker, which is building his strength up. I just can’t say enough about the workers at the Home.”

The workers who provide the care to her husband are now in the middle of collective bargaining agreement ratification. The Belknap County Commissioners support and have agreed to a 1.5% wage increase for the employees. There is one more step before the workers would receive the modest increase. The Belknap County Delegation is meeting Monday, April 28, to discuss and vote on whether to make the appropriation to fund the contract.

“It would be a shame for those workers not to get their raise,” said Thea. “They definitely deserve it. You know it isn’t easy work they do. And, the small raise they’re getting will cost each household in Belknap County just $2.00 a year – that’s less than a gallon of gas, for Pete’s sake.”

Aloise has seen at least four workers leave the facility since her husband has been a resident. “I think money had a lot to do with it. I’d hate to see the Home lose any more workers because the delegation won’t approve the funds. It’s extremely important, especially for the dementia patients, to have familiar faces. Dana responds well to familiar faces, particularly those who are kind and loving to him.”

“I was hospitalized myself this year and wasn’t able to visit Dana for three weeks,” she said. “But, I knew he was being treated with love. That means so much. We really lucked out in getting him placed in Belknap County Nursing Home. It’s clean. The residents get great care and entertainment. And, as I overhead one man who was visiting the other day, it doesn’t have that awful nursing home smell.”

The facility is less than four miles from the Aloise residence and Thea visits her husband nearly every day.

“Let me tell you, if those delegates don’t approve this contract for a staff of kind and loving workers who always give 200% effort, shame on them,” she said. “I will remember their names come election time. I know the late Rep. James Pilliod would have stood up for the nursing home residents.  He was a humane and compassionate man who really cared about his constituents. I’m hoping the current delegates will vote in the same way.”

“I don’t feel sorry for myself,” Aloise said . “In marriage, you don’t know what’s coming your way, but you accept it. I’m sure Dana would have done the same for me. Life is tough, but it comes with great joy, too.”

There is a rally planned in support of the Belknap County Nursing Home employees from 3:30-6 p.m. on Monday, April 28, at the Belknap County Complex, 34 County Road, Laconia. The rally is taking place immediately prior to the Delegation meeting.  All are invited to come in support of the Belknap County Nursing Home residents and employees.  There is also an online petition readers can sign in support here.

Belknap County Nursing Home employees are represented by the State Employees Association/SEIU Local 1984.

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