After staff deaths, employees say South Side nursing home not doing enough to protect workers

Coronavirus

CHICAGO — Employees at a South Side facility where two staff members died due to COVID-19 said continue to speak out and raise concerns over the lack of protection and information that is being provided.

Tuesday, WGN News reported two employees of Bria at Forest Edge died from the virus.

Bria at Forest Edge is a nursing and assisted living center that also includes “an infectious disease program … for people in need of recovery assistance with infections and related diseases.” 

Since then, union leaders and employees protested the lack of information from management and an environment that lagged behind CDC standards for weeks.

Lakisha Collier is a CNA working at the Bria of Forest Edge. She said the death of her two coworkers came as a shock.

““We had to find out on television that our coworkers died of COVID-19. It’s sad and it’s tragic,” she said. “It’s devastating news.”

Collier and other employees said they are only allowed one mask per week.

Shaba Andrich is the vice president of SEIU, the Service Employees International Union. It represents 13,000 nursing and group home workers statewide.

Andrich said the frontline workers are too often treated like second class citizens.

“Our CNAs are often on the frontlines but forgot about,” Andrich said. “They are the ones face to face with residents constantly.”

CNA Kenya Hooper said she makes $13 an hour so working at Bria at Forest Edge is not about the money. She said staff comes to work because they care about their patients. She said they need more respect and more PPEs.

“We have no equipment. We are given one mask for one week,” she said.

The SEIU believes there a lack of communication happening at Bria at Forest Edge and elsewhere. The union charges there is a concerted effort by some nursing and group homes to under report their COVID-19 sicknesses and deaths. 

WGN News has  reached out to the CEO of Brea and have not received a response.

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