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Letter to the Editor: Healthcare workers still struggling
Letter To The Editor

From Lisa Gordon

Certified Nursing Assistant, Darlington 

To the editor:

When I became a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) 24 years ago, I never imagined that I would be working during a pandemic like COVID-19. Much has changed in nursing home care over these years but unfortunately not for the better which is even more evident now. The pandemic has shown me how important it is for nursing home residents and workers to have a say at the table when decisions are made regarding funding, where the money will be spent and who the money is spent on. Millions of dollars made available through the CARES Act for nursing homes proved to be nothing more than a bailout for the industry rather than providing much needed relief for workers. This money did not go to the front-line workers nor better staffing for residents.

The proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is of the utmost importance to protecting residents and workers from this deadly disease. Yet our nursing homes continue to be without sufficient PPE. FEMA shipments were a joke as most of the supplies distributed are not medical grade for use in a nursing home. Wearing the same mask for 7 or more days and re-using gowns is considered acceptable now by the CDC but before COVID-19, this would have been unthinkable. 

A CNA co-worker became sick with COVID-19. She was out of work without pay for about 30 days. Who can afford that? We don’t have sufficient PTO for lengthy sick time off which is much greater than other workers since we can’t return until all symptoms are gone for 72 hours.

We appreciate the thank yous but that only goes so far. We need to have our employers, our communities and our government show us that we are truly valued. Why do the corporations and healthcare institutions get bailed out every time? Why not reward us instead? Please give us a seat at the table so we have a voice on how the money is spent, nursing homes are held accountable for money spent and workers and residents are truly valued.