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Healthcare workers caravan outside DOH, calling for increased testing, greater nursing home accountability

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Given that 75% of Covid-19 related deaths are in nursing homes the Department of Health needs to use its authority to require greater deal of accountability from nursing home administrators and give front line workers a seat at the table in the response to the pandemic…


Frontline healthcare workers from Rhode Island’s congregate settings held a large caravan protest directly outside the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) on Wednesday, calling on the agency to begin engaging and communicating directly with frontline caregivers, provide more onsite testing of workers and hold nursing homes more accountable. They were joined by community supporters and numerous fire trucks and ambulances.

“The Department of Health needs to listen to the voice of frontline nursing home workers who despite tremendous fear and stress continue to show up to care for residents out of love,” said Patrick Quinn, Executive Vice President of SEIU Healthcare 1199. “Given that 75% of COVID-19 related deaths are in nursing homes the Department of Health needs to use its authority to require greater deal of accountability from nursing home administrators and give front line workers a seat at the table in the response to the pandemic.

“We are hearing from nursing home workers that on-site testing of staff is not happening, already understaffed nursing homes are being exacerbated by the pandemic, and many administrators are not honoring their workers with fair hazard pay,” Quinn continued, “Put quite simply, we are the ones delivering the care, and risking bringing the virus back to our loved ones at home, we deserve to not just be called heroes -we deserve to be treated like heroes.”

Since last week, caregivers in nursing homes and other congregate settings have held emergency caravans to demand safe staffing, proper PPE, better testing and hazard pay.

Additionally, workers contend that nursing home employers need to be more accountable to DOH when reporting cohorting, levels of staff, employment of staff working at other facilities, and number of workers and residents being tested. Frontline caregivers are calling for additional information about safety guidelines, testing, and services like emergency housing to be communicated directly to them. The state should not exclusively rely on nursing home administrators and congregate care employers who in large part have underpaid, understaffed, and undervalued frontline caregivers for decades.


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Finally, workers are calling on the Department of Health to conduct onsite testing of workers, along with residents instead of asking them to travel to Twin River.