MemberJanuary 17, 2020 at 1:40 am
TL;DR Worked for a place for almost 2 years to make it functional. When they fired me I left them up shit’s creek without a paddle
When I was 28, I was hired by a contract management company to manage the housekeeping and laundry departments for a 350 bed nursing home. It had been purchased by new owners bringing in their own management team, but my company to manage only those two departments. I had a law degree but the market was bad and I needed a job. I hid my degrees and kept my knowledge of contracts and relevant laws to myself. My company knew only my experience running a small cleaning company, not that I used it to get myself through school.
I replaced a corrupt manager and had to wrangle his crew under control. Established regular schedules. Trained the staff up to par. Brought in new manuals from my company. They had my back, but I was the only person at the facility that didn’t answer directly to the administrator. He controlled the social workers, activity directors, nutritionists, chefs, nursing directors – every employee there but me.
I did my job well. I am thorough and rule minded. The people I trained were sometimes easily hired by a local hospital, leaving the nursing home because of the poor pay and lack of respect. Also, they used the disciplinary process to bully the workers. If they had a disciplinary meeting, the union rep came in and met with the admin first. They set the plan, held a bogus hearing with the employee and the admin got the predetermined outcome he wanted.
Nonetheless, I cared for the residents/patients who were there and tried to make it all work. After over a year, the new owners and admin decided to get specially certified as a higher quality facility. That meant more new training, in-service classes, more manuals, teaching them how to read MSDS sheets, educating about the protocols for handling sharps containers and hazardous waste – I even helped out the nursing department. The staff was getting certified in something to do with setting IVs. Never bothered me so on occasion, my office right next to the training room, I let them use the backs of my hands to practice. I sent detailed memos to the admin noting storage areas that should have negative pressure to prevent the spread of germs, but were free flowing into corridors. Memos about the tools my porters needed to do the job correctly. Problems with the nurses leaving feces in diapers, which soiled the work of an entire giant washer (you could easily fit yourself and a few friends in these). Had to slow the operation to rewash everything. So many issues for a place that was very poorly run for years.
I rocked that joint. I was liked by residents and other staff. That was eventually my saving grace. I am a hard worker and I don’t take any shit from slacker subordinates. But I would never expect an employee to do something I wouldn’t do. Including helping my guys remove dead pigeons from the tops of elevators, coordinating new exterminating programs, dealing with rooms after patients passed on – usually not too cleanly.
The inspectors from the certifying commission came in and were not happy. In the cleaning business I ran while getting through school, my partner and I cleaned offices, homes, schools – we were experienced and diligent.
The admin called me into his office when the inspection was done. He was with the lead inspector and they wanted to discuss the findings. The inspector outlined the same major issues that I had been pressing but that the admin told me he couldn’t address because he didn’t want to spend the new owners’ money. Before I could say anything, he noted it was my first job running a medical facility. Then ran down a list of issues as if he and I had never discussed anything. I was so stunned I could barely speak. The conversation was short and I was out of the office before I knew it.
I called my field supervisor and let him know what happened. Tim was similarly blown away. He knew that I had essentially established those housekeeping and laundry departments. He didn’t know I was an attorney and legal compliance was my bailiwick. Just that I had well trained my staff of 38 (plus substitutes) and filled a filing cabinet with manuals and procedures. We awaited the fallout.
The next Monday I went into work with no particular expectations. I anticipated that we would be removing anything that the inspectors didn’t like, cleaning where they wanted, and doing the usual stuff we had to do – moving beds, processing laundry, stripping and refinishing floors, labeling residents’ clothes. The morning went by unremarkably.
Monday afternoon one of the nurses pulled me into the area behind the nurses’ station. She motioned for me to be quiet and shut the door. Now, I was concerned. She pulled a small square of newspaper from her pocket. It was undoubtedly a classified ad for my position. I took the paper and we silently went back to our business.
Later I called my supervisor and told him. He was floored. He told his bosses and the owners hadn’t even notified my company yet. Tuesday, I went about my business quietly, taking note of my efforts. I was pissed. And by Tuesday afternoon I was quietly seething. Wednesday I talked with Tim again. My company was willing to transfer me to another contract they had. They were being screwed over as well. Unfortunately, it would be a job with an hourly rate, not equal to the salary I had been getting, with a much longer commute, until they had something better. I said I would think about it. When I hung up the phone I put out my feelers for another job.
Thursday almost came and went but that afternoon I met with the admin. He told me that he had terminated the contract and Friday would be my last day. Tomorrow. My 30th birthday.
As I was leaving work Thursday, Jack, the shop steward, approached me. He wasn’t happy, and said he would do whatever I needed. Word had apparently spread fast. He told me that my people were planning on throwing me a goodbye/birthday party the next day. No car, take the train in, they would be my transportation.
As I sat there in my office and thought of all I had done for the place, I found my plan. I stayed late and completed a 2 week schedule for my staff. Then I opened the filing cabinet. I took the manuals provided by my company and placed them in a cardboard box. I then went through all the procedures, manuals, signs, memos, job descriptions – everything I created. I emptied that filing cabinet. I put it all in heavy garbage bags and called my night crew. I explained that I had been fired. They already knew. Of course. I instructed them to wait until later that night, then remove the four large black bags from my office to the dumpster.
Friday morning, I boarded the train with comfortable clothes, a light heart and a clear mind. I worked pretty much as if I would still be employed. They were paying me for the day and I didn’t want to tip anyone off. I had private meetings with my staff, quietly, while they worked. I told them to look to Jack for guidance. Things would be bumpy. That afternoon I met with the Jack and gave him the schedule for the next two weeks. I tore down the posted schedules and threw them away.
The party was great. I got slightly drunk and then the Jack drove me home. On the way I told him about being an attorney and that I had taken away everything I created. We laughed and laughed.
My weekend was forgettable, I assume we celebrated my birthday somehow. Monday morning around 10 AM Tim called. The administrator was in a panic. His new manager couldn’t find any policies or procedures. No training manuals. No schedule templates. No hazmat checklists. No floor stripping plans. No instructions for labeling clothing. No disciplinary forms. Nothing. Not even work schedules for the staff for the next week or even the next day or even that day.
I assured Tim that I had the manuals issued to me by the company in a box safely in my trunk. The staff was able to manage the schedule for the next two weeks. (I didn’t want to screw them over. Plus, most had regular shifts.) Everything else I tossed in the bin. Gone forever. He shouldn’t care, they screwed the company on the contract. He agreed. And we laughed and laughed.
I never made the transfer because a legal employment opportunity opened up. And life moved on. It’s firmly in the distant past now. But whenever I think back, I still have to smile.