SEATTLE - The Washington State Nurses Association, UFCW 21 and SEIU Healthcare 1199NW reiterated a call for frontline health care workers to receive hazard pay in the face of personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages.
Leaders from each of the three unions issued a statement in a release from the Washington State Nurses Association (WSNA). The statement is as follows:
“Since the first case of coronavirus was confirmed in Washington state on January 21, essential health care workers—including nurses, techs, radiologists, respiratory therapists, maintenance staff, service workers and others—have stepped forward to serve our community. Our members continue to work, day and night, serving thousands of patients and saving lives even as their own lives are put at risk from a severe shortage of masks and other PPE needed to prevent contagion. We need our hospitals to do more to provide adequate protective gear so all are safe at work.
“Our first priority is PPE—we cannot win this fight if health care workers fall ill, and our members deserve to be protected as they work to help others recover.
“But in view of the PPE shortages that have been going on for weeks on end, health care workers have earned more than our thanks. We are grateful to Senator Patty Murray for her leadership in calling for a Heroes Fund to provide hazard pay for all essential workers. Hospital CEOs have been making millions for years. Hazard pay is a basic thing to provide for frontline caregivers and we are calling on hospitals to step up and pay them and calling on Congress to include hazard pay in coronavirus relief legislations to recognize the contributions of our members with hazard pay for the duration of this crisis."
The WSNA release also included testimonials from health care workers and nurses around Washington, including one from Spokane:
“Across Washington state, and across the country, nurses and other health care workers are caring for patients under extraordinarily difficult circumstances. We don’t have the personal protective we need and instead are working under crisis CDC guidelines that fly in the face of what we know about proper precautions in caring for infectious patients, like those with COVID-19. There still has been no scientific data that supports these guideline changes. In these difficult times, as we continue to deliver the care patients need, we are calling for hazard pay to recognize the risks we are stepping up and facing every day," Clint Wallace, a Registered Nurse, Sacred Heart Medical Center, said.