Thanks to generous member donations to the NYSUT Disaster Relief Fund, the statewide union purchased 145,000 surgical masks for members on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.
The first shipment of much-needed personal protective equipment went to members at the Long Island Community Hospital; the Saint Catherine of Siena Medical Center in Suffolk County; and to the Visiting Nurse Service of New York in Manhattan.
Later deliveries went to SUNY Downstate Health Science University; Stony Brook University Hospital; NYU Langone-Brooklyn; and Staten Island University Hospital. A shipment sent directly to NYSUT headquarters was dispersed to members at UUP Buffalo HSC; Albany County Nursing Home; Westchester Federation of Visiting Nurses; and SUNY Upstate Medical Center University in Syracuse.
“Our health care members are working in unimaginable conditions right now,” said NYSUT President Andy Pallotta. “We wanted to find a tangible way to let them know their union is there for them.”
Proceeds will go directly toward purchasing and providing Personal Protective Equipment, food and other supplies for all of our dedicated health care workers.
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“Since New York City and Long Island are hot spots, we felt we could do the most immediate good in those areas,” said J. Philippe Abraham, NYSUT secretary-treasurer, whose office heads the Disaster Relief Fund. “But this is just a start — we are currently working to provide even more assistance for our members on the front lines.” To date the fund has raised nearly $80,000.
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 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 health care.