Monday, May 16, 2011


The New York Times reported today that Nursing Homes in the United States are seeking a reprieve from having to pay health insurance to their workers, claiming they can't afford it. Nor can their workers, given their low wages (about $10-$12 an hour)

I am against such special exemptions for nursing homes. Let me tell you why.

More foodborne illness outbreaks originate in food service operations, such as restaurants, private catered events, schools, hospitals and nursing homes, than in homes (some estimates say it is a 7:2 ratio). Studies have found nursing homes - where people are particularly vulnerable - to be among the most hazardous places to eat (see earlier posts on 2/23/11 and 9/27/10).

There are a number of reasons. A major one is the fact that many food service workers in such places work while they are ill, passing on germs to the people who eat the food they have touched or breathed or coughed or sneezed onto. They don't stay home because they have no insurance, and can not afford to lose the pay. A recent study by the U.S. Environmental Health Service, found that in such food service facilities many more managers (66%) received paid sick leave than did the lower-paid workers (35%).

The fact that a large percentage of workers have no health insurance will also mean that they don't get treatment. As a result, their illness will drag on longer than it should, not only exposing the patients, but also often their fellow workers, who will, in turn, also expose the patients.

This situation needs to be changed. People in nursing homes need safe food.

To your good health!

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