Rhode Island – The entire Rhode Island Congressional delegation heard directly from hundreds of health care workers on the frontline of the Covid-19 crisis in a Zoom Tele Town Hall sponsored by District 1199 SEIU New England. Senator Jack Reed, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Congressman Jim Langevin, and Congressman David Cicilline all participated in the exchange with health care workers.

“We don’t have enough PPE. We were expected to use the same masks several days in a row; now we at least get one mask per day, but we still don’t have eye-protection. We’re scared because we could transmit it from resident to resident or bring something home to our families,” said Adelina Ramos, a C.N.A at Greenville Genesis Skilled Nursing.

Adriana Chartier, a Labor and Delivery Nurse at Women & Infants said, “My generation is going to face another crisis at some point, I’m hoping to have at least another 25 years in this career. I was just starting when Ebola hit and felt that we were much more prepared for that.  Washington needs to reinvest in good paying manufacturing jobs so that in this crisis and in the future we are not left without the supplies and equipment we need.”

Immediately after hearing from frontline caregivers, Congressional delegates issued the following statements of support on Twitter:
 

Senator Jack Reed: @SenJackReed: Just spoke w/ my colleagues in delegation & @SEIU1199_NE workers & caregivers who are on the frontlines of #COVID19 crisis. We are truly grateful for their service & committed to prioritizing their health & safety as they care for others. We must ensure they have #PPENow.

Congressman Jim Langevin: @JimLangevin: Pleasure to have joined a call w/ @SenJackReed, @SenWhitehouse, @davidcicilline, & @SEIU1199_NE. SEIU members are healthcare heroes on the frontlines working in hospitals, nursing homes, & health centers during this crisis, & we’ll continue to work to get them critical #PPENow.

Health care workers through their union 1199 are making the following national #ProtectAllWorkers demands of elected leaders.”

– Immediate investment in the health and safety of every worker, including continuing access to personal protective equipment and training, now and in the future.
-Employers must provide full healthcare coverage to direct and sub-contracted employees

-Every worker must be covered by permanent comprehensive paid leave policies providing immediate access to 12 weeks leave at full pay for workers who are sick, mandated to stay home, or caring for loved ones

-Better staffing

-Job, wage, and economic security for every worker through industry funds for lost wages, child care costs, debt relief, and housing assistance.

“We must provide greater support and protections to the heroic workers who are putting their lives on the line each day to provide care during the COVID-19 crisis. Our healthcare providers working in hospitals, nursing homes, clinics and group homes should not have the added anxiety of getting sick or infecting others while performing their essential work. We are heartened that the entire Rhode Island Congressional Delegation recognizes and understands the urgency of securing more protection and resources for frontline workers for the health and safety of everyone in the community and we need to continue pushing forward,” said Patrick J Quinn, Executive Vice President of District 1199 SEIU New England.

The Rhode Congressional Delegation took questions and heard testimonies from health care workers from nursing homes, health centers, Women and Infants, and Butler Hospital.