Former Hospice workers say leadership causing demoralized work environment

Posted 23 December 2022 at 11:12 am


It is concerning that a community-based organization that is founded on compassion, community care and empathy can also be one that has quickly developed into an environment that demoralizes its staff, pushes healthcare workers to the edge and does not listen to the concerns of its employees.

Supportive Care of Orleans (formerly Hospice of Orleans) is a wonderful organization and asset to this community, however recent changes in leadership have left the organization under the leadership of administrators who have displayed angry outbursts towards staff, instances of staff member humiliation in front of co-workers and a work environment that lacks any of the values that the organization espouses to have.

These are only a few of the number of unacceptable instances that have ultimately led to the resignation of, to our knowledge, approximately 30% of the staff over the last few months.

Members of the Board of Directors have been made aware of these issues on several occasions by employees. Unfortunately, the concerns have been dismissed and the behavior by the organization’s leadership has continued leaving many employees no choice but to resign and seek employment elsewhere, often outside of the county.

Supportive Care of Orleans is a long-standing pillar of compassionate care in this community. A history of strong leadership, donor support and a passionate staff have built this organization that provides unparalleled service to Orleans County. It seems that the current administration has lost sight of the selfless-service of the employees who are remembered by hundreds of families who received Hospice care. Without a dedicated and mission-driven team, Supportive Care will become known as just a name of a service that is delivered instead of the memory which stays with families for a lifetime.

Most who come to work for Hospice come with the knowledge that:

  • working in a not-for-profit organization in a small county does not offer the same pay and benefits found in large organizations.
  • serving hospice patients and their families is hard and takes an emotional toll.
  • as with all health care agencies, you will be asked to go above and beyond what is in your job description.

Knowing all of this, these health care professionals still come and serve. In return, they should be able to expect the support and compassion of an organization which claims a mission to “embrace those facing advanced illness with optimal levels of comfort, compassion and expertise.”

Instead, as of late, employees work in an environment where one must constantly look over your shoulder wondering who is next in the crosshairs or next to resign due to the stress and humiliation.

To have employees both feel and vocalize that they are scared to disagree with the current administration for fear of being targeted or retaliated against is a disservice to healthcare providers and patients at Supportive Care of Orleans.

It is our hope that the situation quickly changes so that this organization can once again attract and retain a staff that is dedicated to serving patients and families in Orleans County. We encourage the board to take an unbiased examination of the state of the organization and live up to the values that Supportive Care claims to hold.

Concerned former employees,

Michelle Toenniessen

Christine Odom

Aubrey Fortunato

Tammy Chmylak

Cora Goyette

Derek Reiner

Margaret Stewart

Samantha Haran

Penny Bloom