Nurses’ union seeks child care options, access to personal protective equipment
One of the major unions representing Illinois nurses is calling for policymakers and healthcare groups to do more to aid those “on the frontline” of the new coronavirus pandemic.
The Illinois Nurses Association has requested state, local and federal officials to provide child care to Illinois nurses. The move, they said in a statement, will relieve the strain placed on nurses as they prepare to work extensive overtime hours and expose themselves to COVID-19 patients.
“As schools are closed to stop the spread of this disease, nurses need child care to take care of their responsibilities at home, as they take care of patients affected by this pandemic,” the union said. “In these uncertain times, we must make every effort to support nurses so that they can take care of patients in Illinois.”
The union also called for more availability to personal protective equipment, and it criticized the American Hospital Association for not doing more to protect nurses by enforcing stronger workplace safety standards.
Illinois Health and Hospital Association spokesman Danny Chun told Health News Illinois that they are supportive of providing child care services for healthcare workers, and that the association has spoken with both Gov. JB Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office on the matter.
Chun also said hospitals are taking steps every day to ensure staff has the necessary equipment needed to treat COVID-19 patients, as well as steps to “conserve” the existing supplies going forward. He stressed that individuals continue to self-isolate and follow state and federal recommendations to mitigate the spread of the virus and lessen the burden on healthcare workers.
Other measures that nursing unions could support to help during the pandemic are temporary waivers to allow out-of-state nurses to practice in Illinois, as well as waivers that would allow temporary daycare centers to be established at hospitals for their employees, according to Chun.
INA Executive Director Alice Johnson told Health News Illinois they would not support any plan that would “lower standards for nursing in Illinois.” She also said that temporary daycare centers at hospitals do not seem a “realistic” option when facilities are currently limiting visitors and taking other precautionary measures to stop the spread of the virus.
“Nurses and other frontline medical personnel need workable and safe solutions to the issue of providing childcare,” she said.
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