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Workers at Carvalho Grove nursing home in Fall River picket for hazard pay during Covid outbreak

“All we want is to be treated fairly and to be able to take care of our residents and our families safely. Frontline caregivers have scarified a lot throughout this horrible pandemic – we need our employer to give us the respect and the dignity we deserve by compensating us with fair hazard pay.”

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Dozens of Carvalho Grove nursing home workers held an informational picket outside the Fall River facility calling for hazard pay to compensate them for the ongoing risk of caring for COVID-19 positive residents while being understaffed and under equipped.

Since the advent of COVID-19, front-line caregivers have coped with multiple outbreaks at the facility, including one that is happening right now, with 19 residents currently testing positive as of this writing. Around 20 residents have died due to Covid, and about half the staff at the nursing home has tested positive for Covid during the pandemic, with many of them passing it on to their families at home.

UpriseRI spoke with Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Anna Almeida who has worked at Carvalho Grove for almost 36 years. Almeida had Covid last year, but was one of the fortunate ones in that she was asymptomatic.

“I’ve been working on the Covid Unit since last year,” said Almeida. “It’s tough to see the decline in residents, the ones who used to be able to get around and do stuff for themselves have become bedridden, can’t do anything for themselves and are very sick.

“Families can’t visit. The patients are isolated. They’re sad, they’re depressed. We worry very much about them.”

The staffing situation at Carvalho Grove is so dire, that the National Guard has stepped in to assist, yet Carvalho Grove’s parent company, Bear Mountain, is not offering hazard pay. The company offered hazard pay to workers on one floor of the facility, but many staff in the rest of the building have contracted Covid, and the workers say the offer is unfair and insufficient.

“I caught Covid from work and gave it to my husband,” said CNA Rhonda Courser in a statement. “But I still go in every day to take care of the 15 residents on my floor who are Covid positive. This has been so hard on all of us, physically, and emotionally. All we want is to be treated fairly and to be able to take care of our residents and our families safely. Frontline caregivers have scarified a lot throughout this horrible pandemic – we need our employer to give us the respect and the dignity we deserve by compensating us with fair hazard pay.”

About the Author

Steve Ahlquist is Uprise RI's co-founder and lead reporter. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade.


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