Employee at Alabama Veteran’s Home says ‘hero pay’ to workers stopped

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PELL CITY, Ala. (WIAT) — An employee at a Pell City veteran’s home tells CBS 42 that healthcare workers had additional “hero” pay taken away, even after staff members contracted COVID-19.

So far, a total of seven employees at the Colonel Robert L. Howard Veteran’s Home in Pell City have tested positive. None of the veteran residents have tested positive.

“We are still putting our lives on the line here to bring the best quality care we can to our veterans. A lot of us are overworked and underpaid,” said Lauren Maddox, who works at the facility.

Maddox said she has been at the facility for almost two years and was shocked to receive a text message last week alerting employees that an additional $2 per hour in “hero pay” would be stopped.

“You call us heroes but you took away our hazard pay, we’re not heroes, we are hostages. We have to work to feed our families and pay our bills and keep our cars. I want healthcare workers to thrive, not just survive,” said Maddox.

Representatives for Maddox’s parent company, HMR Veterans Services and the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs told CBS 42 that hazard pay would be available to staff members providing direct care to a COVID-19 resident. However, since there are no positive cases at the Pell City facility, it is not being offered.

An HMR representative told CBS 42 that additional money was given to staff members during a period of time around the July 4th holiday, but resources will be saved for future needs that may arise.

“A lot of my co-workers feel like this was a great insult to us and a lot of us are really angry,” Maddox continued. “There are a lot of good things about this nursing home, but there is also a lot of work that needs to be done.”

According to HMR, residents are screened multiple times each day and universal testing continues to be conducted.


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