As member donations roll into the NYSUT Disaster Relief Fund, delivery trucks are rolling into NYSUT offices statewide, bringing cases of personal protective equipment to health care members working on the front lines of the coronavirus crisis.
The latest shipment of 45,000 masks arrived at NYSUT headquarters this week, bringing the total number of NYSUT mask donations to 145,000.
“Nothing feels better than giving back to those who give so much,” said NYSUT President Andy Pallotta. “As a NYSUT leader, nothing makes me prouder than being able to give back to our health care members, many of whom are working in unimaginable conditions right now.”
“As the coronavirus crisis continues, letting our members know that we are there for them is vitally important,” said Philippe Abraham, NYSUT secretary-treasurer, whose office heads the disaster relief fund. To date, the fund has raised nearly $80,000 thanks to generous member contributions. “As we raise more, we will provide more. Ensuring that our members have the equipment they need is our top priority.”
The latest deliveries went to UUP Buffalo Health Science Center; Albany County Nursing Home; Westchester Federation of Visiting Nurses; SUNY Upstate Medical Center University in Syracuse; and SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University.
Although NYSUT sought to purchase National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health certified N95 respirator masks — which provide the best protection and are the most needed — finding a reliable source the union could trust was difficult, given the scarcity of supplies.
The union settled on surgical ear-loop masks with three layers of non-woven polypropylene fabric, which “have a number of uses and should help lower the spread of the virus for anyone working in the hospital,” explained Veronica Foley, NYSUT’s assistant in health & safety and healthcare. She noted that if true NIOSH certified N95 masks had been available, the union would have purchased those.
Earlier mask recipients include Long Island Community Hospital; the Saint Catherine of Siena Medical Center in Suffolk County; and the Visiting Nurse Service of New York in Manhattan. Members at Stony Brook University Hospital; NYU Langone in Brooklyn; and Staten Island University Hospital also received masks.
As NYSUT members across the state risk their lives serving on the front lines in hospitals and other health care facilities statewide during the COVID-19 crisis, NYSUT urges members to donate to the NYSUT Disaster Relief Fund. All proceeds go directly toward purchasing and providing PPE, food and other supplies for health care workers.