Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people everywhere are uncertain about the future of their health, safety, and economic security. A particularly vulnerable part of the population is nursing home residents and their staff.
We at GreaterGood are dedicated to assisting in COVID-19 relief efforts in multiple ways. As always, we’re continuing to support our flagship programs that help people, pets, and the planet, but we’ve made it our top priority to support the people impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and those fighting on the front lines.
One way we’re doing this is by creating and donating masks to places like 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East.
1199SEIU is part of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which is a union of about 2 million members in healthcare, the public sector, and property services. SEIU is the biggest union representing retirement home workers.
When the coronavirus hit, we at GreaterGood worked with our apparel suppliers to retool production plans so they could create tens of thousands of high-quality, medical grade KN95 and N95 masks. All of the masks meet hospital requirements and are being gifted to frontline COVID-19 care and relief workers.
GreaterGood shipped 5,000 masks to 1199 for use by its nursing home workers. To date, this makes 73,000 masks that we’ve donated to frontline workers. We plan to donate 90,000 masks total.
According to the CDC, the U.S. has about 15,600 nursing homes with about 1.3 million residents. Based on initial reports from Europe as well as expert analysis in the U.S., once the pandemic resolves, half of all deaths due to it may be found to have occurred in assisted living facilities. At the time of this writing, six states have reported that people residing in nursing homes account for over half their state’s deaths — and states have only just begun reporting nursing home deaths that were due to COVID-19.
It is imperative that nursing home staff and residents get enough protective equipment during this crisis.
We gave our masks to 1199’s Quincy, Massachusetts, location. In MA, 77% of nursing homes are affected by the coronavirus, and 56% of all Massachusetts’ COVID-19 deaths have occurred in nursing homes, as of April 26. In 299 out of 389 nursing homes in the state, there has been at least once confirmed COVID-19 case, but roughly one-third of the nursing homes in MA reported that their facility has over 30 COVID-19 cases.
1199 has over 450,000 members throughout Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Florida, and Washington, DC. Since its founding in 1932, members of 1199 have made it their mission to fight for quality healthcare, good jobs, and social justice for everyone.
Its members are frontline caregivers in hospitals, nursing homes, homecare, clinics, pharmacies and all other areas of the healthcare industry. Since its inception, 1199 has fought for (and won) some of the highest standards for healthcare workers in the country, including improvements like strong wages, paid time off, educational opportunities, better working conditions, secure retirement, and increased benefits. 1199 merged with SEIU in 1998, and 1199 has drawn in other smaller unions in the eastern U.S. in the decades since.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called 1199 his favorite union and said they were “the authentic conscience of the labor movement.”
How You Can Help
Supporting the work of organizations like 1199SEIU will help keep thousands of people safe and healthy during this crisis. Every mask that protects a health care or aid worker from illness offers potential relief to hundreds of other people.
By purchasing items from our online stores, you can help fund even more medical masks. Use promo code MOREMASKS at checkout to fund our next batch of shipments. Purchases of $50 or more will fund one mask, and purchases of $100 or more will fund four.
Another way you can help is by signing our petition urging the government to do everything possible to secure more personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks, gloves, face shields, gowns, and more for our healthcare workers. In the U.S., access to PPE is in short supply. Hospital staff are being forced to reuse disposable masks and other gear, increasing the risk of infection. The government needs to immediately begin prioritizing this issue and distributing PPE to the hospitals that need it most by any means possible. Sign the petition!