Valley Hi Nursing Home employees filed grievance amid scabies outbreak

McHenry County needs a Chairman to Reign in Spending

By JORDYN REILAND – jreiland@shawmedia.com

WOODSTOCK – Amid a Norwegian scabies outbreak in a Woodstock nursing home. more than 70 Valley Hi Nursing Home employees and union members filed a petition addressing insufficient staffing levels.

The document, obtained by the Northwest Herald Wednesday, alleges that employees have worked all call in days, in addition to being mandated way beyond the limits of their strength and health. The petition also said the insufficient staffing has increased the usage of sick time and job resignations among staff members, which has put a further strain on the existing staff.

“We are demanding that the Management at Valley Hi utilize every resource available to bridge the gap in staffing levels until Valley Hi can hire new candidates for the many open positions,” the petition said.

Valley Hi Administrator Tom Annarella declined to comment on the petition and said it was unrelated to the scabies outbreak.

The county operated facility notified the McHenry County Department of Health June 30 of potential cases of the disease, and it was confirmed the next day.

Annarella said the nursing home is working with the local and state health department to get rid of the disease as quickly as possible.

“This is not something that doesn’t happen in nursing homes,” he said, noting this has happened in other facilities in McHenry County.

He said Valley Hi will provide residents and staff members with the second round of treatment early Thursday morning and visiting restrictions will be lifted Saturday.

Norwegian scabies is a severe form of the disease caused by an infestation of the skin by the human itch mite, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The disease is spread by direct contact and clothing, bedding and furniture contamination.

Democratic state Rep. Jack Franks, who is running for McHenry County Board chairman, said he first heard of the incident after he received calls from concerned family members of Valley Hi residents.

“As a result of the inadequacies and response of management, they have created a much worse problem for taxpayers and the employees,” Franks said.

He said both the petition and scabies outbreak cause him great concern, and he hopes that if proper procedure was not followed then management will be held accountable.