Report From a Healthcare Worker in the Bay Area
At the beginning of the pandemic, healthcare workers in the San Francisco Bay Area could take solace in the fact that California was “crushing the curve.” While the reduction in services impacted most peoples’ amount of work, the low number of COVID seen at most hospitals provided some reprieve. But that has changed in the last month. Since early July, California, like much of the country, has seen a dramatic increase in coronavirus cases, inevitably creating a very stressful scenario for healthcare workers all over, this time including those in the Bay Area.
One common theme that those of us in healthcare have noticed in the recent weeks is the increased level of stress and the constant feeling of doom. At a time when we were already exhausted from months of shelter in place rules, we are confronted with an even worse spread of the virus with the same issues that we had at the beginning of the pandemic: lack of PPE, understaffing, and no hazard pay. While it would be understandable to feel overwhelmed and overpowered, many healthcare workers have taken a different approach and have decided to protest the dangerous working conditions, the chronic problems of this healthcare system, and the injustices created by a racist system.
Below is a short list of the many demonstrations that have taken place in the recent period. While this is not an exhaustive list, it is one that inspires.
- In Oakland, Highland Hospital workers organized a walk out to protest unsafe working conditions and the racism faced by many of the patients they serve.
- UC Davis nurses held a rally to demand the protection of safe staffing ratios and patient safety standards.
- Almost 800 workers at Santa Rosa Memorial hospital went on a five-day strike to demand a contract, proper wages, PPE, safe staffing, and access to testing.
- Stanford Hospital workers are demanding the administration reimburse them for the vacation time that they were forced to use to cover for their leave due to COVID-19.
- Summit Medical Center nurses in Oakland held a vigil to commemorate the life of a fellow nurse who died from COVID-19.
- Kaiser nurses will be holding a demonstration on August 6th to demand access to PPE and protections for staffing ratios.
Featured image credit: Steve Fisch / Stanford