In honor of Roda Vicuna, LVN
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.
Sal Rosselli, President, National Union of Healthcare Workers
Sophia Mendoza, Secretary-TreasurerNational Union of Healthcare Workers