State awards raises to nursing and group home staff

RHODE ISLAND (WLNE) – On Friday, Governor Gina Raimondo announced the state is slated to give raises to all frontline workers in private nursing and group homes who make less than $20 an hour.

These are temporary raised being offered through the state’s new Congregate Care Workforce Stabilization Fund.

Congregate living facilities have seen the most coronavirus cases in Rhode Island, with residents and staff getting infected.

“Everyone is saying healthcare workers are heroes. That’s true. But healthcare workers have been heroes all along, and all along have not received the kind of treatment heroes should be receiving,” said Adanjesus Marin, the lead organizer of union 1199.

He has experience in home care. He said the work is labor intensive and low paying.

“You could make the same amount of money working at the corner store and not have to deal with a lot of the pain and hard work that you have to deal with when working in a nursing home,” said Marin.

He was happy to hear the governor’s announcement, but wants hazard paid to be offered to all frontline workers, regardless of how much they make.

“If you are on the front lines providing care in congregate settings then you deserve this hazard pay. It shouldn’t be cut off because you make $20.25 instead of $19.75,” said Marin.

Governor Raimondo also announced she is deploying the National Guard to these congregate facilities to help with infection control, PPE, and testing questions.

“We’ve been advocating for the National Guard for quite a while to come in and assist,” said Scott Fraser, President and CEO of Rhode Island Healthcare Association. He has been advocating for hazard pay for frontline workers for several weeks.

“We really appreciate the fact that the governor is recognizing the work that many of these employees are doing,” said Fraser.

While Marin welcomes assistance from the National Guard, he said what they really need is help with direct patient care since COVID-19 has left the previously short-staffed facilities with skeleton crews.

“When you have one CNA to 20 residents– advice is great but it’s not enough. We need bodies who are going to help take care of those residents,” said Marin.

Employers can start applying to the Department of Health and Human Services on Monday to get pay raises to their employees as early as May.

Categories: Coronavirus, News, Rhode Island