WSNA COVID-19 Weekly Advocacy, 4/13

This week, WSNA continued the work to address the concerns raised by members like you as nurses across the state fight the pandemic.

Here are updates on key efforts we focused on this week to deliver the resources and support you need to serve your patients and keep yourselves safe.

Hotels for Nurses in Seattle and King County

Thanks to coordinated advocacy by WSNA, UFCW 21 and SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, King County Executive Dow Constantine announced Friday that King County will provide free hotel rooms to nurses and health care workers who are concerned about potentially exposing family or loved ones to COVID-19. Rooms will be provided at Hotel 116 in Bellevue, with close proximity to Kaiser Permanente – Bellevue Medical Center and Overlake Medical Center & Clinics. The rooms will be available to health care workers through June.

Additionally, the Seattle Mayor’s Office is partnering with WSNAand other unions to provide free hotel rooms to nurses and health care workers – both to workers who are healthy, but concerned about potential exposure to those they live with, and to those who need a safe place to isolate or quarantine. These rooms are available at the Hotel Executive Pacific in downtown Seattle.

To reserve a room at either the Bellevue or Seattle hotel, please call WSNA at 206-575-7979, ext. 6004.

Fighting for Hazard Pay

We are fighting to win hazard pay for our nurses and all health care workers in recognition of their heroic work during this pandemic. Senate Democrats in Congress have proposed hazard pay in the amount of $13/hr (up to $25,000 for those making less than $200,000 annually) for all essential frontline workers retroactive to Jan. 27. In addition to our joint petition with UFCW 21, SEIU Healthcare 1199NW and OPEIU8, which is now over 16,000 signatures, we are negotiating with employers across the state, advocating for hazard pay at the national level, and raising the issue in the media. Our efforts have already made news around the state, including coverage on KVEW in the Tri-Cities and KREM in Spokane which was picked up by MSN.com and syndicated nationally

COVID-19 MOU at King County Public Health

We reached a Memorandum of Understanding with King County Public Health to cover terms including redeployment during COVID-19, COVID-related leave, and workers compensation and leave protocols during COVID-19.

In addition, we reached COVID-19 agreements, an MOU and an MOA, at UW Montlake and UW Northwest that provide protections when exposed, protections from redeployment and protections for the at risk employees.

Worker Protections by Gov. Inslee

On April 1, WSNA joined other health care and first responder unions in asking the Governor to make clear that employers must protect high-risk workers and to clarify his earlier order regarding L&I claims filed by health care workers and first responders. Today, Gov. Inslee issued a proclamation protecting high-risk employees and on Friday sent a memo clarifying how L&I should handle workers compensation claims for COVID-19:

· Proclamation protecting high-risk employees guarantees workers over age 65 and workers with underlying health conditions can choose an alternative work assignment; use accrued leave or unemployment benefits (with mandated employer-maintained health coverage) if alternative work assignment is not feasible; and prohibits employers from permanently replacing high-risk workers (meaning workers who need protection now must be given their job back when this is over)

· Memorandum on workers’ compensation clearly defines new conditions including: assuming any COVID-19 exposure occurred on-the-job unless there is clear evidence otherwise; and the state will pay for medical and time-loss costs for quarantine period regardless of final diagnosis. This memo also provides relief for employers who have workers utilize this benefit, disincentivizing employers from telling their nurses and health care workers that they became sick through “community exposure”

COVID-19 Webinar

This week, WSNA hosted a webinar for our members on our efforts to ensure you have what you need to stay safe and serve your patients. If you were not able to join, you can view a video of the webinar and access link to resources/materials from webinar at https://wsna.to/aprilcovid

Hashtag Campaigns

WSNA has launched a campaign for social media using the hashtags #StayHome and #SilenceKills. These were chosen to allow opportunity for all RNs to engage in a collective effort they feel strongly about. Using these hashtags we can support education of our community with #StayHome to flatten the curve, and we can advocate for adequate PPE and other resources without the fear of retaliation by using #SilenceKills. It’s also a way to engage our community in a partnership in supporting nurses and caregivers on the frontline of this pandemic.

WSNA is encouraging all members to participate by taking a photo with hashtag sign and posting about why it’s important to you. To make this simple, we’ve created downloadable signs, or you can make your own. Here’s what to do:

Download and print your own selfie sign. (If you can’t print your own, just make your own using the hashtags and add WSNA).

1. Take a selfie with your sign.

2. Post the selfie to your own Facebook page and add the hashtag as text in the post.

3. Email the picture to selfie@wsna.org so we can post on the WSNA Facebook page. That’s it!

We’re already seeing lots of interest in this campaign both in WA and beyond our borders. We invite you to join in. Let’s see how far we can get this to go!

Recent News Coverage

· OREGON PUBLIC RADIO: ‘It’s Terrifying’: How Frustrations Flared For Nurses At SW Washington Hospital (4/9/20)

· KREM 2: Washington health care unions demand coronavirus hazard pay for workers (4/8/20)

· THE BELLINGHAM HERALD: Citing safety fear amid coronavirus outbreak, union files complaint against PeaceHealth (4/7/20)

· KIRO 7: VIDEO: North Sound hospital under fire by its own nurses (4/7/20)

· MEDSCAPE: COVID-19 Exposes Potential Gaps in PPE Training, Effectiveness (4/6/20)

· THE SEATTLE TIMES: As coronavirus spreads, frontline workers press Inslee for more info on where personal protective equipment is going (4/3/20)

· THE SEATTLE TIMES: Silencing nurses and doctors will make the coronavirus crisis worse (4/3/20)

· KEPR TV: "We are going to die," Kadlec nurse calls on federal government, businesses to provide PPE (4/3/20)

· TACOMA NEWS TRIBUNE: Pierce County health care workers petition for hazard pay amid coronavirus crisis (4/1/20)