Update for State Employees at Southern Nevada Veterans Home

Working with AFSCME members who brought safety issues at the workplace due to COVID-19 to the attention of our union rep Jeanine Lake,  Jeanine reached out to the Department of Veteran Affairs to ensure the agency is prioritizing worker safety. When workers speak up and when we all work together, we can make changes to improve our working conditions and lives! 

Below is the memo on safety meansures the Southern Nevada Veterans Home will be taking to prioritize worker safety. 

If you have concerns about safety at your workplace, please reach out at [email protected] 

April 7, 2020 

To:  Employees at the Boulder City Veteran’s Home 

Fr:  Jeanine Lake, AFSCME Local 4041 

Re:  Meeting with Director of Veterans Affairs, Katherine Miller 

Due to concerns brought to our attention by AFSCME members this past week, I wanted to let you know that on Monday, March 30, 2020, an email was sent to the Administrator of the Veterans Home, Linda Gellinger.  Shortly after sending that email, Ms. Gellinger responded saying that she had forwarded the information to the Director of Veterans Affairs, Katherine Miller. 

On Thursday, April 2, 2020, due to no response, we followed up with Director Miller who in turn immediately set up a telephone conference for the same morning.  Based on our discussion of the issues during the telephone conference call, the following information was provided: 

  • The lack of fitting for the masks that medical and other staff were required to use was a problem and was mentioned in the letter of March 30th.  The following day, Director Miller contacted DHHS who in turn sent employees from SNAMHS to the Veterans Home to properly fit employees and train employees how to do the fittings. 
  • Director Miller said she has a daily huddle with her managers/administrators to keep them up to date of any information regarding the pandemic from the Governors’ Office, the CDC, Bureau of Veterans Affairs and any other organizations.  She said she would reiterate to her staff that they need to be better prepared to address employee concerns and answer questions so that there is no confusion or lack of information available.
  • Regarding safety gear, Director Miller said she has placed an emergency order for cloth gowns from the NDOC.  She said she has placed emergency orders for scrubs for staff as well.   
  • Director Miller said she believes that currently they have an adequate supply of masks and gloves however, due to the uncertainty of this pandemic the department has aggressively reached out to all veterans organizations in state and nationally as well as private sector businesses for assistance in obtaining additional supplies emphasizing the need for more N-95 masks too. Those groups have proven very helpful.    
  • They have also contacted a business here in Nevada for 3D printed face shields and those are supposed to be in the works.  
  • Obtaining tests for the virus was difficult.  They started out with only 28 tests.  Since Nevada was approved as one of the states to begin their own testing, they now have been provided with hundreds of tests for their facilities and Director Miller stated that all employees and Residents at the Veterans Home in Boulder City have now all been tested.  Results were still pending at the time of our call. 
  • The isolation wing is now up and running for those who have tested positive and those who may have been exposed.    
  • Staffing levels are at 75%.  And with the Governors initiative, they are looking at trying to hire additional staff as soon as they can. 
  • In response to our reporting of employees sleeping in their cars to avoid contact with their families, the directors office reserved rooms at the El Rancho Motel in Boulder City for staff to stay at.  At the time of our call, only a few employees had taken advantage of the motel rooms, at no cost to them.   

 If employees feel that they are not getting answers to their questions about safety, staffing, quarantine or anything else related to the pandemic from their chain of command, Director Miller informed us that employees can reach out to her either via email or phone calls.  We can provide email addresses and phone numbers to employees should they need it. 

As this pandemic continues, AFSCME Local 4041 will continue to address your issues/concerns.  We want to make sure your safety and those of your residents are top priority.  Thank you.