July 14, 2023

Nursing Home Workers Walk Out Over Pay Dispute, Ongoing Issues

Nursing Home Workers Walk Out Over Pay Dispute, Ongoing Issues

Staff members at a Chicago nursing home allegedly refused to work after Aliya Healthcare failed to pay them on time. Ryze West, formerly known as Symphony West in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood, was acquired by Aliya in June. Since then, nurses have reported persistent payment concerns under new management. 

Staff claim that under previous management, the hospital developed a culture of neglect and was understaffed. Here's what's reportedly going on inside this building.

Current complaints from nursing staff

Staff at Ryze West claim that they have not been paid since their facility changed ownership. On July 5, 2023, local news affiliate WLS 7 reported that staff walked off the job

Employees told the news station they were unpaid in the previous pay period. Then to make matters worse, they said the company did pay them for the most recent pay period but then took the money back, blaming a clerical error. 

Nurses said that Aliya Healthcare told them they would be compensated by Wednesday by 3:00 pm. Yet they had not been paid as of the 5:00 pm news story. 

As a result, outraged workers refused to work until the pay issues were resolved.

Licensed vocational nurse Victoria Anderson told WLS 7 that she was quitting. She said she was supposed to receive a direct deposit on Wednesday, June 21. However, the funds were never received in her account. She and others were left wondering what to do since they had no warning that they would not be paid. 

In addition, she reported that management failed to communicate with staff about the issues. “The Administrator and people were walking around all day, and they didn’t address us, didn’t say anything to us,” Anderson said.

Another nurse at Ryze, Dorothy Jackson, expressed outrage to WLS 7 News. “Don’t pay us when you wanna pay us,” Jackson told a reporter. “My bills have to be paid; I have to pay rent. I have to pay my insurance. I have to pay the light bill. And my gas bill.”

Workers also told news reporters that inadequate staffing had been a concern since the acquisition.


Image: Facebook

Pay issues affect patients and families

Complaints over late pay and subsequent refusal of staff to work have now impacted the patients and their families. 

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One woman, Jimeka Green, told WLS 7 that she went to Ryze West to visit her uncle and observed several nurses refusing to work because they had not been paid. 

The facility on the government’s radar

This facility, located at 5130 W. Jackson Blvd, was recently in the news because of its  “squalid” conditions. According to a former employee, the nursing home has more than 230 beds, with sometimes four people in a room. The unnamed nurse told CBS News Chicago that the facility's management encouraged a culture of neglect that was growing worse.

Image: CBS News Chicago

The nurse, whose identity was concealed, stated that she had recently quit her job at the deplorable facility and was speaking out for residents who could not advocate for themselves. The news story stated at one point, there was only one nurse assigned to 200 residents. 

The informant shared photos from inside the facility that showed mold growing on walls and dirty beds that were unkempt. 

"A pillow soaked in urine - they'll just put a pillowcase over it," the nurse explained. The nurse also mentioned patients laying in feces on the floor. “He'd probably be there for a while until someone came to help him," she said. The nurse that spoke out stated that she mentioned concerns to management multiple times but went unheard. 

According to public documents, Symphony West was a For-profit corporation with 234 certified beds. The state surveyed the facility nine times in 2022. The facility received 106 deficiencies, paid $465,000 in fines, and had payment suspended three times. 

The US Department of Health and Human Services issued a Special Focus Facility candidate notice to Symphony Chicago West. That means that the facility had a recent documented pattern of inadequate care and was under the scrutiny of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Most of the facility’s residents are on Medicare or Medicaid and have no other options for care. 

What’s next for nurses and residents

The nursing home employee walkout over pay delays is the most recent problem that staff and residents face at this Chicago nursing facility. WLS 7 News stated that the Illinois Department of Health had not received any new complaints about staffing concerns linked to the strike. The Department, however, was reportedly sending a surveyor to Ryze West to investigate. 

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