For Immediate Release
Contact: Jamie Lucas, (720) 621-3689
March 18, 2020
Nurses and Health Professionals Demand Immediate Action to Protect Healthcare Workers and Wisconsinites Across the State
Paid leave, protective equipment, childcare, and hiatus on rents and mortgages
among simple measures that will keep us all safer
Milwaukee, WI – The Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals (WFNHP) calls for drastic action from hospital and laboratory executives, healthcare corporations, and government officials to protect healthcare workers and Wisconsin citizens as much as possible during the spread of this pandemic.
Healthcare workers are on the front lines of this battle, and the health of our community depends on their ability to do their jobs. Our healthcare ecosystem is unable to meet the influx of needed care, but there are common sense changes that need to be enacted immediately so that we have a chance to rest and recover as individuals and as a community.
Jeff Weber, RN of 25 years and President of WFNHP said, “These demands are largely the same principles we’ve always believed in and fought for. Now, it’s just easier to understand why people, especially healthcare workers, need to meet their basic needs--so they can focus on providing quality care to their patients when they come to work. It’s the Wisconsin way to take care of each other in times of need, and we all need to do our part to stop the hurt. Everyone needs to contribute to flattening the curve of this spread without sacrificing their basic needs like shelter, food, and healthcare.”
Accordingly, WFNHP respectfully makes the following demands to medical facility administration and government officials:
- Institute a policy of paid leave forgiveness and outright pay any employee who is required to miss work from suspected or documented exposure to COVID-19, whether that exposure occurred at work or elsewhere, so that their accrued paid time off is not required to be exhausted.
- Provide COVID-19 testing and coverage for all related medical treatment at no cost to all bargaining unit employees. Make sure all staff and subcontracted staff are properly trained in safety protocols regarding COVID-19. Ensure all safety equipment is secured and available for all staff.
- Enact childcare subsidies or alternative methods of childcare to all healthcare workers in need of childcare. If workers are unable to secure childcare, allow for them to make arrangements to see their families are secure before requiring them to work.
- Institute a hazard pay policy of double time for all healthcare workers working during this crisis until such time as there is no longer an emergency or disaster situation.
- Put a moratorium on rent and mortgage payments for the people of Wisconsin so that nobody has to choose between practicing safe social distancing and going to work, thereby risking further preventable exposure.
- Offer an emergency stipend to cover the costs of purchasing basic supplies (such as groceries, medicine, and cleaning products) that will allow healthcare workers and their families to remain as healthy as possible.
If we don’t meet the basic needs of nurses and health professionals in this time of global crisis, we will undoubtedly fail people who need their care. Protecting nurses protects everyone. However, these are necessary policies for healthcare workers and everyone in Wisconsin. To not institute these changes would be a gravely irresponsible decision that risks the lives of our neighbors and families.
Wisconsin FNHP represents nurses & health professionals throughout the state of Wisconsin and is the local affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers healthcare division, which represents more than 130,000 nurses and health professionals in a variety of disciplines and settings.
A Union of Professionals