There are no upcoming events at this time.
Roughly half of SEIU Nevada’s members work in healthcare, most for the 11 hospitals across the state that we represent. Below is advice offered to these and other frontline workers by Mark Catlin, SEIU’s Occupational Health and Safety Director.
Healthcare Employers Must Develop and Implement Specific Occupational Health and Safety Policies and Procedures to Protect Workers
The first case of Ebola transmission to a healthcare worker in the United States was to a nurse at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas who had cared for the Liberian man who died from Ebola. The hospital has claimed that all CDC guidance had been followed. Public health officials originally suggested that a breach in protocol must have occurred, although this has since been retracted. This statement has led many to the conclusion that the nurse made a mistake which led to her infection. The response to this has been a call for more training to help healthcare workers protect themselves.
More and better training is crucial, as are drills to practice the strict infection control procedures recommended by CDC and needed to protect healthcare workers when caring for suspected or known patients with Ebola. However, training is only one part of the picture. Hospital management must develop site specific comprehensive programs that integrate the CDC Ebola guidance, at a minimum. Simply referring workers to the CDC website, passing out a print out of the CDC guidelines or showing a short slide presentation is not what is needed. Without a comprehensive infection control program with occupational health and safety built in, just training healthcare workers won’t be enough.
Hospital management should review infection control policies and procedures and incorporate plans for administrative, environmental, and communication measures, as well as personal protective equipment (PPE) and training and education. Hospitals should also define the individual work practices that will be required to detect the introduction of a patient with Ebola or other emerging infectious diseases, prevent the spread of Ebola, and manage the impact on patients, the hospital, and staff. Everyone inside a hospital, from the CEO to the management team to frontline workers, has a responsibility in meeting the following guidelines:
- Strict compliance with OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogens (BBP) standard is crucial, including the use of safer needles and sharps, as required in the BBP. SEIU fought for and won the BBP standard in 1991 and the safer needle requirement in the federal Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act signed into law in November, 2000. The OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens standard explicitly requires the use of safety-engineered sharp devices and the active involvement of front-line workers in the evaluation and selection of these safer technologies. A 10-minute 2001 SEIU video, The Fight for Our Lives: How We Won Safer Needles, highlights our history with these victories and can be viewed at http://youtu.be/g51WkB9zpEk.
- The CDC guidance for Healthcare calls for standard, contact, and droplet precautions for management of hospitalized patients with known or suspected Ebola virus disease. As a part of the guidance, the CDC recommends the use of respiratory protection (at least an N95) during all aerosol-generating procedures performed on a suspect/known patient.
- Facilities must have a clear policy on pay and benefit protection for all workers placed on precautionary removal from their normal work because of possible Ebola exposure. Language requiring this is part of the California OSHA Aerosol Disease (ATD) Standard, which specifically covers Ebola. SEIU and the Nurse Alliance of California fought for and won the ATD standard in 2009, a unique occupational health standard protecting healthcare workers in California. Outside California, this or similar language should be in a facility’s plan:
“Where the Physician or other licensed health care professional (PLHCP) recommends precautionary removal, or where the local health officer recommends precautionary removal, the employer shall maintain until the employee is determined to be noninfectious, the employee’s earnings, seniority, and all other employee rights and benefits, including the employee’s right to his or her former job status, as if the employee had not been removed from his or her job or otherwise medically limited.”
Local unions and our members should be included in the development, periodic review and implementation of the plans. Our members’ involvement and experience are key to a plan that is effective in providing care for these patients while protecting the health and safety of our members.
This is a beginning. As information and guidance changes, we’ll provide updates and additional information to assist local unions in understanding issues around addressing the Ebola outbreaks and ways to help our employers during this public health emergency.
Congratulations to the Bargaining Team and all Health District members.
The contract now goes before Board of Health Aug. 28 for final approval.
Please CLICK HERE for a flier about this vote.
Following up on last week’s informational meetings, our Southern Nevada Health District members will vote Tuesday and Wednesday, Aug. 19-20 on their Tentative 2014-19 Collective Bargaining Agreement with management.
Please CLICK HERE to access a PDF of the articles of this agreement.
Please CLICK HERE to access a flier about polling dates, times and locations.
The bargaining team – Jennifer Bowers, Rosemary Ensign, Cara Evangelista, Victoria Harding, Lorraine Oliver, Jacquelyn Raiche-Curl, Amanda Reichert and Janet Webster – unanimously RECOMMENDS RATIFICATION of the contract.
GENERAL MEETING & VOTING: Tuesday Aug. 19
4:30-7 PM: Main Office (330 S. Valley View Blvd., LV)
VOTING CONTINUES, Wednesday, Aug. 20
8 AM-4:30 PM: Main Office AND 400 (Shadow Professional Center, 400 Shadow Ln, LV)
8 AM-Noon: Henderson Clinic (520 E. Lake Mead Pkwy, Henderson)
1-4:30 PM: East Clinic (Sunrise Marketplace, 560 N. Nellis Blvd., LV)
About 25 members and staff of SEIU Nevada helped sway the Southern Nevada Board of Health Monday night to do the right thing and preserve a 30-year-old program that serves 200-to-225 of the region’s most at-risk mothers-to-be, new moms and their infants.
Voting 9-3 – with Chairman Rod Woodbury, Vice Chair Bob Beers and member Tim Jones dissenting – the board disregarded a staff recommendation and voted to preserve its Maternal Child Health Program, which serves at-need women during their pregnancies and after the births of their children. The program will be saved from the budgetary chopping block via $600,000 to be allocated from more than $2 million in additional money the district will receive from Clark County toward its fiscal year 2015 operations, which begin July 1.
Nearly an hour-and-a-half of sometimes emotional debate preceded the vote, with SEIU Nevada members affiliated with the program telling the packed room about the program’s extraordinary work. “We go out there and do miracles with these babies every single day,” said Victoria Harding, Vice President of SEIU 1107′s Non-Supervisory employees at the Health District.
Losing jobs was never an issue, Chief Health Officer Joseph P. Iser told the board, because the district intended to reassign the five nurse case managers in the program to other programs. Instead, Iser argued that the district should place emphasis on programs with rigorously scientific “evidenced-based” proof that they improve “mortality and morbidity outcomes.”
No one argued that the program hasn’t greatly benefited some of the region’s most vulnerable residents. Iser, however, said that the lack of admittedly expensive research that would prove whether the program had categorically prevented deaths and illness meant it should be shelved in favor of programs with that scientific seal of approval.
But a majority of commissioners weren’t buying it.
“How about quality of life?” asked member and County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani, who mounted the most impassioned plea among board members in favor of saving the program. “How about a family being able to stay together? We can’t say that it’s ‘effective’ [only] because we haven’t bothered to prove that it is. Not everybody is a number.”
In response to Iser’s remarks about the program’s lack of scientific proof of its effectiveness, board member John Marz asked,” It’s taken us 30 years to figure out it doesn’t work? Is it a benefit to the mothers and children who have no place else to go?”
“We know it’s helping people,” board member Wade Wagner added.
The board’s vote extends funding for the Maternal Child Health Program for at least one year. In addition, the board agreed that it will review the performance of the program and the district’s somewhat complementary, but more expensive, restrictive and “evidence-based” Nurse-Family Partnership Program, in six months.
In an after-meeting email high-five, Cara Evangelista, chief steward of the district’s non-supervisory employees, called out the unity SEIU exhibited at the more than four-hour meeting, including fellow chapter leaders Harding; Mark Bergtholdt, vice president of the chapter’s supervisory employees; and Jacque Raiche-Curl, chief steward of the chapter’s supervisory employees; members from the local’s healthcare sector, and the local’s staff.
“I believe that this was part of what tipped the scales: to see all of you there in support,” Evangelista wrote. “It’s nice to get a victory once and awhile!”