Community, Local, Medical, Park Forest, Regional News

Nurses at Ludeman Developmental Center Rally for Improved Pay and Working Conditions

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- Nurses at the Ludeman Developmental Center in Park Forest held a protest rally on Tuesday morning, July 18, to bring attention to their claims of underpayment and unsafe working conditions.

people wearing blue shirts hold picket signs along the street
Nurses from Ludeman Developmental Center rally for a new contract (Photo INA)

The nurses are part of the Illinois Nurses Association (INA), whose contract with the State of Illinois expired on June 30. The RC-23 bargaining unit of the INA represents about 1300 nurses across the state.

Nurses are continuing to work while negotiations continue in Springfield. According to Margo Gislain, an INA representative, no strike authorization has yet occurred. She said rallies like the one at Ludeman are occurring across the state. She added that they are hopeful that the sides will settle.

white sign with blue lettering asking for a new contract
Signs calling for a “Fair Contract Now” lined the street leading to the Ludeman facility. (Photo John Hudzik)

According to union steward Marika Loftman-Davis who works at the facility, Ludeman has been understaffed for years with the COVID pandemic making the situation more dire. “Staffing ratios are deplorable. There are fewer nurses for more individuals, and they (nurses) are getting hurt.” Loftman-Davis noted that she sustained an injury while working with a patient.

Nurses Treated Like Zeros

Loftman-Davis has worked at Ludeman for eight years. She said that the pay levels were not correct. Loftman-Davis asserted violations of fair hiring practices. She noted unfulfilled vacancies and the lack of observance of seniority rules.

According to Loftman-Davis, Ludeman also needs to update its technology, pointing to using paper patient charts as an example. “Management needs to bring our facility into the 21st century and provide us with the resources we need to care for our patients.”

Loftman-Davis said that the 35 nurses at Ludeman are not receiving the respect they deserve. “Instead of being treated like heroes, we are being treated like zeros.”

group of people wearing blue shirts and holding signs pose for a group picture
Ludeman Center nurses say staffing shortages have only worsened since the pandemic. (Photo John Hudzik)

eNews Park Forest contacted the Ludeman management and the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) for comment. We have not yet received a response.

The Ludeman Developmental Center is at 114 N. Orchard Street, Park Forest. According to data from the IDHS website, as of July 1, 2023, there are 315 patients with an average age of 53. The Center was opened in 1972 as a children’s facility for profoundly intellectually disabled children. Beginning in 1979, the facility transitioned to an adult facility. IDHS information shows 761 active employees are working at Ludeman, with an additional 69 on leave.