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Nursing home workers fight for & win PPE standards

The Union Difference for nursing home workers on the frontlines of COVID-19

Nursing homes have been hardest hit by COVID-19. In Pennsylvania alone, we’ve lost over 5,100 residents and staff to the pandemic. 

Frontline nursing home workers are risking their lives and the health and safety of their families to provide care to their residents, while also carrying the burden of grief for those they’ve lost. Yet too many facilities have failed to implement consistent best practices or safety standards for PPE. That failure has put us all — workers, residents, and the community — at risk.

But our union members have spoken out, sounded the alarm, and refused to be silent. And now, because of our advocacy, there is action.

Directly in response to nursing home workers’ concerns, Gov. Wolf and the PA Dept. of Health have issued an executive order to establish safety standards in all PA nursing homes. They committed to work to enforce this order to nursing homes that are not compliant.

This order goes into effect August 27th, and dictates policies and procedures that, at minimum, include:

  • Distribution of respirators (such as N95s) to staff providing direct care in COVID-19 units or to residents who are positive or suspected positive.
  • Respirators must be NIOSH approved. If those are not available, respirators approved by the FDA, including those approved through an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) are acceptable.
  • Respirator must be given to staff before the beginning of the shift, and the respirator must be replaced as soon as practical if the staff member notifies that their mask has become soiled, damaged or otherwise ineffective.

If a resident, family member or staff member at a facility is concerned about the safety at a facility, an anonymous complaint can be filed with the Department of Health (DOH) or DHS.

If you have a complaint against a nursing home, you can contact DOH at 1-800-254-5164 or fill out this online form.

This is a tremendous victory that shows the power healthcare workers have when we lead!

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