COVID-19 Resources

Updates for Members


June 18, 2020

Dear NUHW Member:

The coronavirus is reshaping health care in our country. With more than 4,000 mental health clinicians in our ranks, NUHW is keenly aware that no sector of the healthcare industry is more in need of reform and more prone to collapse under the pressure of COVID-19 than mental health care.

We consulted with NUHW members to craft six recommendations for addressing the underlying issues that keep people from getting the mental health care they need now and that will only get worse as the pandemic grinds on.

Our recommendations include:

  • Programs to help expand and diversify the ranks of clinicians and expand care to regions where clinician shortages are most severe.
  • Better laws safeguarding the right to receive mental health care and better enforcement of existing laws.
  • More worker input into how mental health care is delivered and guarantees that essential workers putting their lives at risk during the pandemic will have access to mental health care.

SEE ALL RECOMMENDATIONS

The pandemic is one of the worst public health crises we’ve experienced, but in any crisis there is opportunity for real reform. That includes achieving Health Care and Mental Healthcare for All.

If you have any COVID-19 related questions or concerns, contact us at COVID19@nuhw.org.

In Unity,
Sal Rosselli, President, National Union of Healthcare Workers
Sophia Mendoza, Secretary-TreasurerNational Union of Healthcare Workers

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June 11, 2020

Dear NUHW Member:

A GoFundMe account has been set up on behalf of the family of Roda Vicuna. Roda, a licensed vocational nurse at Kindred Hospital Brea, died of COVID-19 on May 29. Contributions will go to Roda’s husband and her two children. NUHW is planning to make a separate donation to the family.

Roda’s sister, who also works at Kindred Brea, recently shared with her co-workers a journal entry about Roda and how her family struggled through the final weeks of her life. You can read that entry by clicking here.

Our primary focus is on making all employers properly protect the health of their workers. One of the very few employers that has done a good job when it comes to making sure that workers are tested for COVID-19 has been Keck Medicine of USC.

Last month, NUHW, because of our strong record of standing up for strong safety precautions for workers and patients, was asked to participate in a television advertisement that thanked Los Angeles County residents for doing their part to stay safe during the pandemic. Since Keck USC has been one of the better employers in terms of making tests available, we asked Keck, as well as the Los Angeles County Fire Department to join us in making the ad.

The ad, which was written and filmed prior to the recent civil rights demonstrations, has aired on several local Los Angeles television stations.

Coronavirus infections are continuing to grow in many parts of California. Health officials recently placed nine counties, including Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Santa Clara and Sacramento counties, on a watch list for potential reinstatement of lockdown orders. Infection rates are also increasing again in the Bay Area even as the region begins revising shelter-in-place orders.

If you have a COVID-19-related question or concern, email us at COVID19@gmail.com.

In Unity,
Sal Rosselli, President, National Union of Healthcare Workers
Sophia Mendoza, Secretary-TreasurerNational Union of Healthcare Workers

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June 5, 2020

Dear NUHW Member:

We are heartbroken to report that NUHW lost its first member to COVID-19 last week. The passing of Roda Vicuna, an LVN at Kindred Hospital Brea, after having been hospitalized for several weeks, is devastating to all of us.

Her coworkers at Kindred Hospital Brea are wearing black ribbons to honor her memory. They are also setting up a GoFundMe account for her family that we will share once it’s online.

In March, we shifted the primary focus of our union to keeping members safe, and pushing employers to adopt the highest safety standards. We have made progress, but there is still much work to be done.

Many NUHW members are fortunate to work at facilities that have not experienced a surge of COVID-19 patients. But others have not been so lucky. Kindred Brea is a 96-bed hospital that cares for many elderly patients recovering from critical illnesses. As of last week, 25 workers at the facility, including 22 NUHW members, had tested positive for COVID-19 as had 16 patients, two of whom have died. 

The situation at Kindred Brea illustrates why we have put our focus on health and safety issues. Hospital management initially failed to secure adequate PPE, resisted testing all patients.

It took very aggressive measures to get the hospital to test patients, agree to test members, and obtain more PPE. We’ve secured $6 to $8 per hour hazard pay for our members working with COVID patients at the hospital, and we have set up weekly labor-management meetings to ensure the management follows through on its commitment to adequately safeguard workers and patients. 

Unfortunately, Kindred Brea isn’t the only facility where our members have contracted the virus. We have had 10 members become infected at a Bay Area Kindred hospital and two members become very sick working at Kaiser Permanente and Children’s Hospital Oakland. We just had our fourth member test positive at Fountain Valley Regional Hospital.

We all know that the pandemic is far from over. We are continuing to push all our facilities to adopt best practices and be prepared for the virus to rebound later this year. As we mourn the passing of an NUHW member, we pledge to do everything in our power to keep everyone safe.

If you have any questions or concerns, email COVID19@nuhw.org.

In Unity,
Sal Rosselli, President, National Union of Healthcare Workers
Sophia Mendoza, Secretary-TreasurerNational Union of Healthcare Workers

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May 27, 2020

Dear NUHW Member:

NUHW members have taken to social media to help promote our union’s COVID-19 Healthcare Workers Bill of Rights. Members throughout California have taken part in short videos to promote each of the ten items NUHW advocates for keeping workers safe during the COVID-19 pandemic and during future pandemics. Eight videos have been released and more are on the way. 

Our Bill of Rights is a distillation of a more comprehensive policy document (see it here in English and in Spanish) that outlines the minimum precautions and protocols that we believe must be put in place to keep healthcare workers safe. We have developed this policy agenda based on guidance from public health officials, research into best practices at healthcare facilities, and conversations with NUHW members — and we are presenting it to employers and political allies as part of a concerted effort to put these policies into practice.

In Unity,
Sal Rosselli, President, National Union of Healthcare Workers
Sophia Mendoza, Secretary-TreasurerNational Union of Healthcare Workers

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May 21, 2020

Dear NUHW Member:

As healthcare workers, there are times when we feel that management is asking us to do work that is unsafe for ourselves or our patients. 

We must be especially vigilant about unsafe assignments during the COVID-19 pandemic when the threat to people’s health is greater and many hospitals are assigning workers to labor pools and giving them tasks for which they might not be adequately trained.

That’s why we want to make sure everyone understands their right to object to an assignment. Click here to access an electronic objection-to-assignment form and learn more about your right to do assignments under protest.

If you have any questions related to COVID-19 and your workplace, please contact us at COVID19@nuhw.org.

In Unity,
Sal Rosselli, President, National Union of Healthcare Workers
Sophia Mendoza, Secretary-TreasurerNational Union of Healthcare Workers

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May 14, 2020

Dear NUHW Member:

Nearly 11 percent of Californians who have tested positive for COVID-19 have been healthcare workers. As of Monday, 7,274 healthcare workers in California had tested positive, including at least 31 NUHW members.

Given the clear threat to healthcare workers and all essential employees, Gov. Gavin Newsom last week issued an executive order that will make it much easier for essential workers who’ve contracted COVID-19 to receive workers compensation benefits.

Under the executive order, workers will have presumptive eligibility for workers compensation benefits if they test positive for COVID-19 within 14 days of working anytime after the statewide stay-at-home order was issued on March 19, 2020. 

Because the governor’s order will be in place for only 60 days, we’re working with elected officials to pass a bill in the state legislature that would extend this system of presumptive eligibility into the future. Caregivers on the frontlines of this pandemic deserve the full protections and support of our workers compensation system.  

To support NUHW’s members, we’ve made arrangements with attorneys who specialize in workers compensation issues to answer questions you may have about filing a claim. 

If you’re based in Southern California, including Kern, Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside and San Diego counties, you can contact the law firm of Ford & Wallach, and ask for Jason Swanson at 213-380-3140, extension 2209.

If you’re based in Northern California or the Central Valley north of Kern County, you can contact the law firm of Boxer & Gerson and ask for John Harrigan at 510-918-3500.

If you call, please tell them you’re an NUHW member. The consultation is free. If you end up filing a claim, the attorneys would only collect a standard contingency fee (a portion of your workers compensation settlement) if your case is successful. 

If you have any questions related to COVID-19 and your workplace, please contact us at COVID19@nuhw.org.

In Unity,
Sal Rosselli, President, National Union of Healthcare Workers
Sophia Mendoza, Secretary-TreasurerNational Union of Healthcare Workers

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May 7, 2020

Dear NUHW Member:

One of NUHW’s central tenets is that everyone should be able to access mental health care that’s on par with the physical health care they receive. Unfortunately, California’s Mental Health Parity Act has big loopholes, and insurers routinely violate it without repercussions from government regulators. 

The COVID-19 pandemic threatens to produce a surge in mental health problems including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. 

Nearly half of Americans report the coronavirus crisis is harming their mental health, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll. A federal emergency hotline for people in emotional distress registered a more than 1,000 percent increase in April compared with the same time last year.

As healthcare workers, NUHW members are especially vulnerable to mental health problems due to the strains of caring for our communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Approximately 11 percent of all Californians testing positive for the coronavirus are healthcare workers.

As the nation’s leading union representing private-sector mental health clinicians, we are pushing to ensure that all of our members have access to free and immediate mental health care and that our mental health clinicians  — whose work responsibilities can be done from home — can do their jobs remotely to lower their risk of infection. 

Our COVID-19 Healthcare Workers Bill of Rights states: 

“Healthcare workers are confronting intense pressure, stress, uncertainty, and trauma in the workplace as well as a high risk for infection. To help workers facing these conditions, healthcare facilities must provide access to high-quality mental healthcare services to employees at no cost.”

We are engaging healthcare corporations and elected officials about meeting the increasing demand for mental health care and making sure that healthcare workers are prioritized. We are also supporting mental health bills in the state legislature that would require insurance companies to cover all medically necessary mental health care and substance use disorder treatments and remove common barriers patients face when attempting to access medication-assisted treatment for substance use disorders.

It’s time for a mental health care surge to meet the growing demand. And that starts with making sure that healthcare workers can get free and immediate care. 

Please contact us with any Covid-19-related questions at COVID19@nuhw.org.

In Unity,
Sal Rosselli, President, National Union of Healthcare Workers
Sophia Mendoza, Secretary-TreasurerNational Union of Healthcare Workers

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April 29, 2020

Dear NUHW Member:

The $2.7 trillion federal stimulus package that provides enhanced unemployment benefits also includes $100 billion for hospitals, nursing homes and clinics to “support healthcare-related expenses or lost revenue attributable to COVID-19.” That’s not all. Billions more in federal aid is on the way to healthcare providers.

Our healthcare facilities shouldn’t be cutting hours for workers during a pandemic, especially facilities operated by healthcare corporations that are pocketing federal relief funds. Decades of corporate downsizing has left our healthcare system woefully unprepared to handle a pandemic, and it’s simply not okay for hospitals to use the COVID-19 outbreak to further cut staffing.

We’re closely tracking the allocation of federal stimulus dollars. Together, we need to make sure our employers treat NUHW members fairly and do not exploit the crisis to further their bottom line. 

Click here for our estimate of how much money each employer of NUHW members received during the first round of stimulus funding, which amounted to about one-third of the initial $100 billion pot. 

So far, it’s been a mixed bag. Several employers have done a good job at working with NUHW to create sensible labor pools and ensure that NUHW members continue to receive their full paychecks. Others have been quick to flex workers without giving them access to paid administrative leave or a fair opportunity to join a labor pool.

We’ll continue to monitor how much employers draw down from their stimulus allocations and advocate that they do their duty to provide opportunities so workers can earn their full paychecks. 

Please remember that people who lose shifts may be eligible to receive unemployment benefits. For more information about applying for unemployment, click here.

Please contact us at COVID19@nuhw.org with any questions about losing shifts or other COVID-19 related matters. And check out our one-page COVID-19 Healthcare Workers Bill of Rights and our more comprehensive policy document to learn more about our top policy goals for protecting healthcare workers during this pandemic and future ones.

In Unity,
Sal Rosselli, President, National Union of Healthcare Workers
Sophia Mendoza, Secretary-TreasurerNational Union of Healthcare Workers

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April 20, 2020

Dear NUHW Member:

The COVID-19 outbreak has jeopardized the health and financial security of many NUHW members — and healthcare workers across the country. To identify and advocate for policies that will protect all healthcare workers, we have produced a 10-point COVID-19 Healthcare Workers Bill of Rights.

This one-page document boils down what must be done immediately to keep healthcare workers safe so they can care for patients and continue providing for their families. Our demands include PPE, universal COVID-19 testing, the ability for certain workers to do their jobs from home, and the right for everybody to have sufficient time to care for their families.

Our Bill of Rights is the distillation of a more comprehensive policy document that outlines the minimum precautions and protocols that we believe must be put in place to keep healthcare workers safe. Both documents have been developed over the past several weeks based on guidance from public health officials, research into best practices at healthcare facilities, and conversations with NUHW members. 

We are presenting this policy document to our employers and to elected officials as part of a concerted effort to put all of these policies into practice. We will also send employers and share with our members an additional document focused more directly on the critical economic issues that must be addressed in response to the pandemic. 

It’s clear that our current healthcare system has failed us during the COVID-19 crisis, and there is much work to do in order to build a sustainable, high-functioning health care system that prioritizes patient care and protects healthcare workers. As a union, all of us have a vital role to play in shaping the future of healthcare, starting with using our collective power to advocate for our own safety, so that patients can get the care they need.

Please read our Bill of Rights and our policy document and keep letting us know about COVID-19 issues you are facing in your workplaces, either by contacting your steward or organizer — or by emailing us at COVID19@nuhw.org.

In Unity,
Sal Rosselli, President, National Union of Healthcare Workers
Sophia Mendoza, Secretary-TreasurerNational Union of Healthcare Workers

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April 6, 2020

Dear NUHW Member:

Over the past week, we’ve updated our COVID-19 information page, responded to dozens of members’ emails outlining virus-related workplace concerns, and pressed employers to improve access to PPE, mandate the wearing of masks in every facility, allow mental health clinicians to work remotely, and provide appropriate paid leave for workers who must care for family members during the pandemic.

If you have any questions or concerns, please email COVID19@nuhw.org. Your organizer or an NUHW director will get back to you with the resources you need or will work to resolve your issues with management. You can also get answers to a lot of questions at NUHW.org/covid19.

Your stewards and organizers will be providing more detailed information about COVID-19 related issues in your facilities, but we wanted to update you on several items that impact everyone:

Mandatory Mask Policies

Every employer must provide healthcare workers with the appropriate PPE (including N95 masks) that’s donned and doffed each time they deliver care to suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients or clean and handle equipment in these patients’ rooms. If your employer is not providing that equipment, please contact your organizer or email us at COVID19@nuhw.org.

When it comes to other settings, several of our employers have recently rolled out Universal Masking Policies. UCSF, which employs more than 1,200 NUHW members at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland, agreed to require everyone in its clinical centers, including patients and visitors, to wear surgical masks. It also requires caregivers to use a different mask when dealing directly with patients, which reduces the risk of caregivers unintentionally passing the virus on to their colleagues and others inside their facilities.

Providence St. Joseph Health this week introduced a less comprehensive policy that provides caregivers with a single mask per day that they must use in all settings.

We’re pushing employers to adopt the UCSF policy. Making masks mandatory shouldn’t just be for big hospital chains. Every medical facility, including clinics and nursing homes, should be requiring masks. Please let us know if you’re concerned about your facility’s masking policy either by contacting your organizer or emailing us at COVID19@nuhw.org.


PPE shortfalls

The lack of adequate PPE is a national disgrace that’s impacting nearly every medical facility in California. We’re continuing to work with employers as well as local and state officials to boost supplies especially at facilities with the most dire needs.

At Seton Medical Center in Daly City, which the state has leased to accommodate large numbers of COVID-19 patients, we worked with local officials to deliver nearly 16,000 N95 masks.

But we know that supplies remain low across the state. Cynthia Yee, an NUHW member working at a San Francisco nursing home, told the New York Times that she has to sanitize and reuse her N95 mask. Keep your organizer informed about the PPE situation at your facility, so we can work on finding solutions.


New resources on our website:

We’re continuing to update NUHW.org/covid19 with additional information, including:

  1. Guide to benefits, stimulus, and new state policies: https://nuhw.org/covid-19/navigating-benefits/new-federal-and-state-benefits/
  2. Mental health resources: https://nuhw.org/covid-19/community-resources-for-covid-19/mental-health-covid-19-resources/
  3. Childcare resources: https://nuhw.org/covid-19/community-resources-for-covid-19/childcare-covid-19-resources/

FILING UNEMPLOYMENT, DISABILITY INSURANCE, OR PAID FAMILY LEAVE CLAIMS
We know that many NUHW members have lost shifts or had to stop working during the pandemic. For a detailed explanation on whether you qualify for benefits and to apply for benefits including Paid Family Leave, Unemployment Insurance, Workers Compensation, Disability Insurance, as well as rent or mortgage relieve, please click on this page if you are a California resident or this page if you are a Hawaii resident.

When filling out a California EDD application, here’s the information you’ll need when asked about your union:

NUHW
1250 45th Street, Suite 200
Emeryville, CA 94608
(510) 834-2009
(510) 834-2019 Fax

Please note, there is no “union local” number. Since you are required to enter information into the “union local” field, you can enter “1.”

We know these are enormously difficult times. We’re committed to protecting everyone’s health and economic well-being. Please contact us with any questions or concerns. We’ll get through this together.

In Unity,
Sal Rosselli, President, National Union of Healthcare Workers
Sophia Mendoza, Secretary-Treasurer, National Union of Healthcare Workers

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March 28, 2020

Dear NUHW Member:

The COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to rapidly evolve. Over the past few days, NUHW leaders and stewards have pressed more employers to improve safety protocols and testing, while federal and state authorities have passed legislation and issued orders providing temporary relief to people economically impacted by the outbreak.

To keep up with the latest developments and provide critical resources, we encourage you to visit our new webpage: NUHW.org/covid-19. The page provides updates on our activities to hold employers to the highest standards for safeguarding the health and well-being of workers as well as information about the federal stimulus package and resources for workers who have lost shifts and income due to the pandemic.

We are committed to protecting the safety and economic security of all NUHW members and their families so all of you can care for your patients. 

That’s why we are marshalling all our resources to respond to your COVID-19 concerns and get them positively resolved with your employers. 

If you have a concern, please contact us at COVID19@nuhw.org or (510) 834-2009, or contact your organizer. 

In Unity,
Sal Rosselli, President, National Union of Healthcare Workers
Sophia Mendoza, Secretary-Treasurer, National Union of Healthcare Workers

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March 23, 2020

Dear NUHW Member:

We know that the COVID-19 pandemic is causing unprecedented hardship and trauma for NUHW members and healthcare workers across the country. Many NUHW members are confronting a desperate shortage of protective equipment; others are losing shifts as elective procedures are cancelled, while many others are struggling to do their jobs while caring for children who are home from school. 

Our top priority is to protect the safety of all NUHW members so all of you are able to care for your patients and your families. We can only accomplish this by holding employers accountable. To that end we have initiated working groups with management at several hospitals to constructively address and solve problems identified by our members. While we have not solved every issue as quickly as we’d like, these working groups have been productive, and we are currently seeking to expand them to additional hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and other facilities.

One issue that we are continuing to stress with employers is the need to make COVID-19 testing available for all healthcare workers as soon as there are enough available testing kids to make that practical.

The immediate need to test all healthcare workers is even more pronounced because of the appalling lack of available personal protective equipment. It’s unconscionable that healthcare workers across the country are being asked to make their own masks, reuse masks, or work without any masks whatsoever. 

We are pushing hard to make sure that all NUHW members have immediate access to appropriate protective equipment. We have also echoed the demands of healthcare workers and public health experts advocating for a dramatic increase in the production and availability of ventilator masks, goggles, gowns, and other protective equipment. When supplies finally increase, we will continue calling on employers to be fully transparent about the availability of protective equipment and how it is allocated.

Unfortunately, many NUHW members have lost shifts because of the COVID-19 pandemic or have had to cut back on work in order to be with their children. One of our employers, UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland, has agreed to provide NUHW members with 128 hours of additional paid-time off. We’re asking other employers to follow the lead of Children’s Hospital, but in the meantime we want to make sure everyone is aware of unemployment, paid family leaves, and other programs that can be accessed through the state of California. Click here to access more information about these programs and links to sign up for them.

Our great strength as a union is that we stand together — particularly in times of crisis. At a juncture when Asian-Americans have endured a sudden, sharp increase in hate crimes, and anti-Chinese comments have been made to COVID-19-related social media posts by at least one of our employers, it’s critical that we not succumb to the forces of division and hatred. 

We’re all in this together, and we are all united in our shared humanity.

If you have any concerns that your employer is failing to protect your safety, provide sufficient time for you to care for your children or maintain your shifts please immediately report your concerns to your steward or organizer — or contact NUHW directly at (510) 834-2009 or COVID19@nuhw.org.

In Unity,
Sal Rosselli, President, National Union of Healthcare Workers
Sophia Mendoza, Secretary-Treasurer, National Union of Healthcare Workers

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March 2, 2020

Dear NUHW Member:

Last week, we submitted information requests to all employers demanding that they quickly provide detailed information about how they plan to keep workers and patients safe while treating people infected with the coronavirus. We have already seen at least one case in which a hospital that employs NUHW members did not immediately take appropriate safety precautions, and there are several public reports of healthcare workers who were potentially exposed to the coronavirus because of lax oversight procedures. 

Click here to read the information request template that was later tailored for individual medical facilities and employers — and sent out late last week. We will keep everyone informed as we get information and make sure that every hospital, clinic, and nursing home with NUHW members has appropriate safety protocols and sufficient supplies of safety gear. 

We are also pressing employers to ensure that NUHW members be paid without having to use PTO if they are required to be quarantined over possible exposure to the coronavirus.

Click here to see the coronavirus preparedness tool provided to healthcare facilities by the Centers for Disease Control. If you feel that your employer is not taking appropriate precautions to protect your safety or the safety of your colleagues or patients, please immediately report your concerns to your steward or organizer. Or you can contact NUHW directly at (510) 834-2009. 

In Unity,
Sal Rosselli, President, National Union of Healthcare Workers
Sophia Mendoza, Secretary-Treasurer, National Union of Healthcare Workers

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