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Local Healthcare Union Reaching Out To Community For Gear

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Sonora, CA – A local healthcare workers union is turning to the community for help to secure personal protective equipment (PPE).

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 2015, which is the largest union in the state with over 400,000 providers and based in the Bay Area, represents 94 Sonora Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA). Their local representative, Nicole Wallace, says she is hearing from union members that they are not getting needed supplies. She relays workers fear, stating, “If we are taking in new patients, if we had somebody come in that is infected, we would not have the supplies to prevent it from spreading.”

All of the healthcare workers are employed by Avalon Care Center located on Greenley Road. The local 200-bed facility is part of the Avalon Health Care Group out of Salt Lake City, Utah.  While Wallace says the center has no confirmed cases, the union is trying to preemptively prepare by ramping up the supplies. She also explains that the facility has never carried the N95 respirators and only stocks a few of the gowns. Wallace details what is needed, “Any available respirators or any kind of protective equipment that they have on hand. Gowns, gloves, face shields if they have them. I would say the respirator mask would be the biggest.”

The call has already been answered by some in the community. Wallace disclosed Lowes donated 16 bottles of hand sanitizer and five boxes of 100 count nitrile gloves and are waiting on delivery of respirator stock. She adds that nitrile gloves are preferred to vinyl. Wallace currently is waiting to hear back from other local businesses.

The union has also reached out to Avalon and Wallace says a conference call is set up for April 1st. Regarding the public request she adds, “It’s not to vilify our administration or to say that they are not doing what they are supposed to be doing. In all honesty, I don’t think that they can get the supplies that they need. I don’t think that they will be able to get it in stock and it’s not that they haven’t tried.”

Wallace points out that her workers care for the most vulnerable population and if the deadly virus were to infiltrate a facility the mortality rate would be really high. The union sent out the below letter to area businesses and others:

To our friends and family in the community:

As you all know, the current COVID-19 crisis in America has created a massive shortage in PPE for the health care community. Many companies have gone above and beyond to donate to major hospitals and while we applaud them, there is one health care industry that is often forgotten. Nursing homes, in-home health care, small care centers and other industries that take care of elderly and rehabilitation patients are experiencing an especially difficult time obtaining n95 respirators, gloves, gowns, goggles, face shields, and other CDC required PPE used to protect against this disease.

In the event that we receive new patients who are unknowingly infected, or in the event that any essential workers or suppliers unknowingly bring this illness into one of our small communities, it will spread rapidly and with force. As we all know, the elderly and those with underlying health conditions are most susceptible to experiencing critical symptoms associated with this illness, and ultimately death.

We have seen the devastating results of this in nursing homes around the country, which have accounted for many of our deaths from this disease in the U.S. today. We are even starting to see positive cases turn up in prison systems and other facilities that are believed to be impenetrable. Sadly, we are often overlooked when it comes to this much-needed PPE, but those in our care are the most vulnerable at this time.

We are doing everything we can to ensure the safety of our residents, clients, and patients, but this invisible threat is mounting. If you do not have family or friends who reside in a care home or use in-home health services, chances are someone you know does. We are calling upon the community while non-essential businesses are closed to please reach out and donate whatever supplies you can part with at this time. If you cannot donate supplies, please forward this message to anyone you can who might be willing to help.

Thank you so much for your time, please stay safe and keep others safe as well.

Best wishes,

Nicole Wallace – CNA and SEIU2015 Union Member Representative from Avalon Care Center, Sonora CA.

If you would like to help, I can be contacted via email at nicolewallace1214@yahoo.com

or by phone at (209) 768-5781

Clarke Broadcasting reached out to Avalon Care Center for a comment but have not yet received any response.

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