‘They call me a criminal’: nursing home workers who can spread the virus

The dietitian, 33-year-old Mr. Vertu, said he gets paid about $ 9.80 an hour, adding that his salary has remained almost unchanged since he started working 14 years ago. Ms. Julius, who is a certified nurse, earns about $ 12 per hour.

Sheryl Carlos, 56, works three days seven days a week at Port St. Lucie, north of West Palm Beach. One is in a nursing home and the other in the retirement community; She earns extra income to care for some people in private homes. She earns around $ 13 per hour.

“I tell you something, I have no life,” she said recently as she returned home in the morning after finishing her nine-hour shift. “If some jobs were paying you enough, you wouldn’t have to work that way.”

Nursing home advocates say most facilities have little control over the staff of other jobs. Raising wages is difficult, they say, when revenue is decided by the state or Medicare.

“There are really good owners out there who do a good job and try to pay people more,” said Dr. Ellis Bonner, who advises on caring for older adults at the Institute for Health Care Improvement.

“But if you are getting mostly Medicaid clients in your nursing home, and you are getting very little money for those clients, and it is not covering your costs, then increasing salary and benefits is really hard.”

In early May and early June, Mr. Vertu and one of Ms. Julius’s employers at Lake Worth Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing, fired him on the grounds that he had violated the policy by coming to work despite being a coronavirus . The employees and their union, have filed complaints on the dismissal.