NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Nursing home workers across the state struggling to get proper personal protective equipment, and say they are not being adequately compensated as they work in an increasingly hazardous environment amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Certified Nursing Assistant Tanya Beckford is COVID-positive. She says she is using up her paid time off to recover and says her sick colleagues at the nursing home where she works are doing the same.
This as her union SEIU 1199 reports its members continue to report having to use trash bags as protective gear.
Senator Chris Murphy pledging to help in a virtual town hall. Connecticut’s congressional delegation is pushing for a $13/hour pay increase for essential workers in the next federal stimulus.
The money would help DSS security guard Danielle Woods pay for the healthcare. “Now I’m reduced to part-time I no longer qualify for medical. All of my family is under my medical,” explained Woods.
It would also help group home worker LaVerne Hatcher, who says she gets little in the way of hazard pay and PPE.
“My life is worth a lot more than $2 an hour extra,” said Hatcher.
“Its why we want this additional payment for every front-line worker,” Senator Murphy explained.
Meanwhile, in a separate news briefing, nursing home providers say they are doing their best, struggling to source adequate PPE due to the global shortage.
“States and hospitals and nursing homes we are all in bidding wars in back alleys and it’s crazy and it’s wasteful so that needs to be rationalized,” said Richard Feifer, Chief Medical Officer for Genesis HealthCare which runs nursing homes throughout the country. “We need more production because fighting over an inadequate supply is still going to have too many losers and too many deaths.”
New information released Tuesday revealed Kimberly Hall North, at Genesis center in Windsor, is one of the hardest-hit nursing homes in the state with 35 deceased patients and, according to SEIU 1199, one worker fatality.
Genesis HealthCare – which runs Kimberly Hall – says they follow strict cleanliness standards and work hard to protect their workers and staff.
Richard Feifer of Genesis HealthCare told News 8, “I wish I could tell you exactly why at that facility had so many when others, at Genesis and others around the state and the country, don’t. But that speaks to how much we don’t know yet about this virus about how exactly it is so contagious.”
Whispering Pines in East Haven is up to 23 coronavirus deaths Tuesday. That’s nine more than the state reported last week.
Some help may be on the way. Governor Ned Lamont announced Sunday the state’s nursing homes would be getting additional financial aid and resources during the coronavirus pandemic.
The aid will go toward not only worker wages, but PPE costs, and other costs relating to COVID-19 treatment and response.