Advertisement

Our coronavirus coverage is free for the first 24 hours. Find the latest information at tampabay.com/coronavirus. Please consider subscribing or donating.

  1. News
  2. /
  3. Health

Local caregivers demand proper protective equipment and hazard pay

1199SEIU Florida, the state’s largest healthcare union, and House Representative Webb joined frontline workers fighting for increased protections.

ST. PETERSBURG — At Northside Hospital, a group of Tampa Bay caregivers demanded better protections from HCA Healthcare, a healthcare facility operator for locations across the state, as the number of new coronavirus infections in the state nearly topped 9,000 Friday.

The group on Friday delivered a letter to management and gathered outside to call for increased personal protective equipment and hazard pay for workers as they remain on the front lines in the midst of the outbreak. Rep. Jennifer Webb, D-St. Petersburg, joined in support.

All workers who have patient contact should be guaranteed the proper personal protective equipment, specifically N95 respirator masks, said Bob Gibbons, the vice president of 1199SEIU Florida, the state’s largest healthcare union.

According the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, N95 respirators filter at least 95 percent of airborne particles. As of now, the group says they aren’t being fully supplied.

In addition, the group is demanding increased pay because of their elevated risk in contracting the coronavirus as frontline workers.

“We believe every time a healthcare worker passes through those doors, they are entering a hazardous environment and should be provided hazard pay,” said Gibbons, 45.

HCA Healthcare did not respond to requests by the Times for comment.

Webb said it’s crucial the government get involved. According to Webb, it’s time to start tackling the pandemic as a long-term crisis as opposed to short-term issue by providing broader protections for workers. She says the protections the group is calling for — including hazard pay and proper equipment — should apply to hospitals as well as assisted living facilities and nursing homes.

Webb would like to see state government address the concerns arising from the pandemic by having lawmakers convene a special session in Tallahassee.

“Now is the time to go back into a special session,” said Webb. “We can’t wait until November.”

• • •

Tampa Bay Times coronavirus coverage

HOW CORONAVIRUS IS SPREADING IN FLORIDA: Find the latest numbers for your county, city or zip code.

THE CORONAVIRUS SCRAPBOOK: We collected your stories, pictures, songs, recipes, journals and more to show what life has been like during the pandemic.

SO YOU WANT TO LEAVE YOUR HOUSE? Read these 10 tips first

UNEMPLOYMENT Q&A: We answer your questions about Florida unemployment benefits

GET THE DAYSTARTER MORNING UPDATE: Sign up to receive the most up-to-date information.

HAVE A TIP?: Send us confidential news tips

We’re working hard to bring you the latest news on the coronavirus in Florida. This effort takes a lot of resources to gather and update. If you haven’t already subscribed, please consider buying a print or digital subscription.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Advertisement
Advertisement