To the editor,
As we all know, the Naugatuck Visiting Nurses Association [NVNA] will be closing its doors in a few short months after over 90 years of service to the town and its residents. It is no surprise that the staff of the NVNA have worked tirelessly through rain, sleet and snow to meet the needs of their patients; whether it was to change a dressing after a recent surgery or to go above and beyond and bring a homebound patient their medications. Even in the worst snowstorms, the staff of the NVNA was out on the roads doing their job simply based on the fact that they care. There are times I can remember the National Guard going home to home to pick up the nurses to ensure that their clients were seen. If that is not dedication then I’m not sure what is. And what do they get for it in the end?
Obviously with the ending of an era and closing of an agency, many staff will be without work, however, unlike the Public Works Department, the 19 NVNA staff members have not been guaranteed employment. Rather, the staff has been treated like the enemy. The NVNA did not ask to be closed, did not ask to discharge patients and did not ask to lose their jobs. They have been raked through the coals and left to fend for themselves all for the sake of the oh-so-powerful dollar. The administration is so focused on profit that our loved ones, who we once knew were receiving quality care, are abandoned. People cannot be sold or traded like business accounts, which is something the administration does not want to hear. Unfortunately, the administration has not even been available to hear the sad and disappointed voices of the NVNA patients, who are devastated to lose the nurses and medical professionals who have not only healed their wounds but actually cared about them.
It is no surprise that everything is driven by money, however, the administration’s current plan for transition suggests that this is not the sole motivating factor. For example, the NVNA is housed in a six-year-old building that is owned by the town. This building will now be empty and potentially a source of rental income for the town yet the administration will probably add it to the list of vacant buildings throughout the town. Better yet, maybe next year we will be paying to demolish it.
Seems to me like the administration got in over their heads and now is struggling to save face. As a result, the administration has been very noncommittal with the 19 NVNA staff members who have been faced with the news that they will be jobless at some point in the next several months. These staff members have families and bills and are left in limbo with no option to seek new employment for fear of losing out on the measly severance packages they are being offered. Unlike the teachers who have been offered early retirement packages, the NVNA staff that have been with the agency for six to 20 years are getting next to nothing. No $25,000.00 bonus, no fair treatment, no write-up on the front page of the paper, not even respect. Again, another reason to wonder what the true underlying motivation is here.
Since I know it has not been said nearly enough, thank you. Thank you to the NVNA for their years of dedication and hard work. Thank you for risking your own safety in treacherous weather to meet the needs of our neighbors, families and friends. Thank you for being there for your patients when their families were not able to be. Thank you for your passion and commitment. Despite the way you all have been treated, remember how much the people of the town truly appreciate everything you have done over the past 90 years and the lives you have impacted. Any agency that the administration makes a deal with to treat your patients will have huge shoes to fill.