To The Daily Sun,
As spouses of the Belknap County Nursing Home residents, we watched the back and forth game of the nursing home administration with what could only be described as horrified fascination. Administrator Mathew Logue was fired for dishonesty, insubordination and lack of cooperation. In any private enterprise this would be grounds for dismissal, however, the Belknap County Personnel Committee consisting of Representatives Colette Worsman, Bob Greemore and Dick Burchell ignored these grounds and reinstated Logue. This had a devastating effect on staff morale, and reflected back to unease and uncertainty among the patients. Mr. Logue was subsequently placed on paid administrative leave. Recently the incoming commissioners wrote that they did not plan to pursue the appeal issue of Mr. Logue to the courts because of costs concerns. Does this mean that the nursing home is getting Mr. Logue back as administrator or that they intend to keep Mr. Logue on paid leave?
The Belknap County Nursing Home experienced serious staffing issues under the administration of Mr Logue ,who was employed in December 2012 and fired in September of 2014. Normally, 21 months is sufficient time for a qualified employee to get up to speed in a new job.
When asked to provide a nursing staff analysis, Mr. Logue decided to submit one.
When Mr. Logue was asked to submit a new budget for the upcoming year, he chose instead to recycle last years budget by just changing the year on the form.
When asked for employee evaluations, he responded that he only had one more to finish, however, the Human Resources director testified that he had not turned in any completed evaluations. These are fundamental administrative duties necessary for the proper running of any organization and as a result he received a written warning and was then dismissed.
Mr. Logue appealed his dismissal to the Personnel Committee and many of us, previously unaware of the details of his termination, sat through several hours of testimony where Mr. Logue was questioned regarding the above issues by attorney Broth and attempted to justify his lack of cooperation in completing his duties. Later that week, we were stunned to read the following.
The Personnel Committee findings dated 10/10/14, to reinstate Mr. Logue with the following decision:
"As described above, the Personnel Committee accepted Mr. Logue's credible testimony that he delayed performing his budget, staffing analysis and employee evaluations because of his sincerely held beliefs regarding the appropriate administration of the nursing home. Therefore, the Personnel Committee discussed and concluded that these failures do not constitute willful insubordination."
Should we hope that the superintendent of corrections does not develop a sincerely held belief of an "open door" policy?
Frankly, the nursing home deserves a competent administrator who completes the necessary administrator's duties. Mr. Logue's job was to administer the "county" nursing home, his sincere beliefs are secondary to his job requirements. His decision not to provide up to date information resulted in budget and staffing issues for the nursing home.
Mr. Logue did make decisions regarding expenditures on equipment regardless of what was requested by the nursing staff. In one case he determined that new chairs for the nurses stations (not requested but look good) were more important than the purchase of a new patient lift. The lifts are used to move severely disabled patients in a sling from their chair to their bed. Recently a lift broke suspending a male patient (one of our husbands) four feet in the air and a serious accident was avoided only by the quick thinking and strength of two LNAs, one who held the patient in the air while the other prevented the machine from toppling over until help came. These women could have been seriously injured along with the patient resulting in workman comp cases or legal action against the county.
Fortunate for all of us, Charlotte Flanagan, who was working out a notice and preparing to take another position elsewhere, had not yet left so she stepped up, at her own expense, to take over. Since Mr. Logue's suspension, the nursing home has run smoothly under the capable administration of Mrs. Flanagan, who has the necessary accreditation in addition to being an RN, and nearly 10 years experience working in various positions in the Belknap County Nursing Home. It was under Mrs. Flanagan's supervision and the incredible dedication of the staff, that the nursing home was able to function during the crisis created by the financial limitations imposed by the court injunction. She negotiated with full-time workers to work double shifts and permanent part-time workers who agreed to put their personal, family, and school commitments on hold to become full-time (without benefits) until the staffing issue could be resolved and their part-time positions funded. Many full-time positions remain open while the employees continue to work without a contract for the past two years.
At the recent finance committee meeting Representative Worsman questioned the additional money needed for the administrator's job, she seemed surprised that someone had been hired to fill Mrs. Flanagan's previous position. Obviously she thought that Mrs. Flanagan should do both jobs. She didn't question the fact that Mr. Logue was collecting his salary at home. She also questioned the auditor's decision to allow the application of 2014 health insurance premium refunds to avoid the default of the county's obligation to pay its portion of the employee health insurance premiums which would have resulted in court action against the county.
It is time for the Personnel Committee to back off and allow a competent nursing home administration to take charge. The Personnel Committee may find Mr. Logue credible in his excuses but they don't have to work under his poor leadership or trust their loved ones to survive his decisions. While he is paid sitting at home, Mrs. Flanagan is doing the job but for how long? Her loss would be a terrible result of their decision. Whatever message the "voters" were sending, it wasn't to continue the employment of, or to reinstate, incompetent employees. If the incoming commissioners are concerned about the cost of this mess to the county, please set Mr. Logue free to find other employment (perhaps for one of the Personnel Committee members), and get to work solving real issues.
Thea Aloes, Gilford; Stan O'Neil, Laconia
Pam Child, Gilford; Catherine Albison, Laconia
Dick Labbe, Laconia