Healthcare workers are on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis, and they aren’t getting the support they need from their employers or the government.
Today on the show, we focus on the challenges nurses are facing at work amid the pandemic. Our guests are Kate Walton, staff nurse in the emergency department at UW Hospital, and Joe Schirmer, retired epidemiologist and occupational health and safety specialist. They discuss changes they’ve observed in the healthcare field and frustrations facing healthcare workers, including a lack of COVID-19 testing locally and throughout the U.S., PPE and respirator shortages, inadequate staffing, and the problem with just-in-time healthcare models.
“Nurses are doing everything we can to prepare, but it’s not like anything we’ve dealt with before,” says Kate, who has been organizing to win union recognition at UW Health. “I’ve been in the emergency department for nine years and I’m trained to deal with a lot of uncertainty, but this is different. But we’re still going in every day, knowing the risks we face. It’s a lot of anxiety. We’re really frustrated at the lack of support we’re getting from lawmakers on a state or a national level. Our state legislature has been out of session. We really need them to get to work to get more PPE for me and my fellow healthcare workers, to ensure paid sick leave and the other support we need.”