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Illinois Nurses Association and SEIU Local 73 demand immediate safety measures for all UIC workers

By staff

Second UIC hospital worker confirmed dead of COVID-19

UIC workers are demanding measures to keep them safer.

Chicago, IL – A University of Illinois health operating room technician, represented by SEIU Local 73, passed away this week of COVID-19 complications. An UI Health RN, represented by Illinois Nurses Association (INA), passed away last week. Over 200 hospital workers have tested positive for COVID-19. The two workers who died were not assigned to COVID-19 designated floors. There is a growth of infection outside the COVID-19 designated floors. Many employees throughout the hospital are only given surgical masks and gloves as protection.

“We are responding to the biggest crisis our country has seen in years. Public employees are on the frontlines working together to defeat this historic and deadly pandemic. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families who have lost loved ones to COVID-19. Essential workers are risking their lives. Proper PPE will save lives. We make these demands so further deaths of UIC workers will be avoided,” said SEIU Local 73 President Dian Palmer.

“Our question for UIH is: How many nurses have to die before we get the protection we need? The employees who so tragically passed away this week did not have proper protection. Every nurse needs an N95 mask. We must do everything in our power to protect healthcare workers and their families from this deadly virus. UIH administration has not protected us,” said Doris Carroll, an RN at UIC Hospital and vice president of the Illinois Nurses Association.

INA and SEIU Local 73 are demanding the following to protect all workers and their families:

-- Universal PPE Standards for all workers – this means all employees providing patient care in UI Health Hospital and Clinics will be gowned, goggled or shielded, and provided proper N95 masks. All essential workers on campus will be provided nitrile gloves, proper masks and ready access to alcohol-based hand sanitizer and cleaning agents.

-- Universal free COVID-19 testing for any employee who requests it whether symptomatic or not.

-- Designate the entire hospital a “COVID Unit.”

-- All workers who can be working at home will be working at home throughout the shelter-in-place order.

-- Workers who must work on campus or in the hospital will be given time to perform self-care to keep their own immune systems strong by being fairly rotated through Excused Absence with Pay (EAP).

-- Individual workers and the union will be notified of potential exposure to COVID-19 as soon as the employer learns of it.

-- UIC will post appropriate signage and notification regarding all changes in policies and procedures in response to the pandemic, including but not limited to the above points.

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