The Newfoundland Association of Public and Private Employees (NAPE) is concerned about the heat and humidity in government-owned facilities such as the Golden Heights Manor in Bonavista, NAPE president Carol Furlong says.
Furlong said Monday she spoke with officials at Eastern Health and they outlined their precautions to combat the hot and humid work environment in Bonavista.
“What (Eastern Health has) done down in Golden Heights Manor is they’ve offered them what they’re calling cooling rooms, where they can go in, it’s air-conditioned, and take a bit of a break,” she said.
Furlong said the rooms are merely makeshift meeting rooms, and with these “cooling rooms” the facility no longer has a meeting room.
She also said Eastern Health will bring in extra staff. It began extending shifts to add extra help last Thursday morning.
These shifts will be necessary because when they take a break in the cooling room, workers must then try to catch up with their workload.
“You go down to the cooling room to cool off for a few minutes. … If you’re doing that four or five times a day, you’re falling way behind in your work,” she said. “Not only that, your ability to carry out the same pace of work that you normally have is pretty limited.”
She said this isn’t a solution to the problem that they’ve been trying to deal with for quite some time.
“(In the winter) the workers at the Golden Heights Manor have been meeting and having discussions to try and take a proactive approach to deal with the upcoming summer. Now the summer is upon us and the issue hasn’t been addressed.
“They’re seeking to try and have something put in place to address this so they’re not dealing with it every single year, or every single time we have a hot day.”
Furlong said the lack of air conditioning is making life difficult for both staff and residents. Even family members are joining workers on the picket lines to voice their support for their loved ones who are residents in Golden Heights Manor.
Furlong said it is common to experience these problems in older facilities during this time of year, such as the Waterford and St. Clare’s Hospitals, but the situation seems to be getting worse.
They consider the problem an annual occurrence and that is a major issue, she said.
She said she doesn’t know whether it is feasible to install an air-conditioning system in all of these older facilities, but it would be a good investment, considering the amount of people living and working in those conditions.