Since the onset of COVID-19 in New York City, thousands of home health care workers from the Bronx have taken care of elderly and infirm patients, effectively keeping them out of crowded nursing homes and preventing the pandemic’s potential spread.
Recently, Congress proposed a new piece of legislation, which would provide financial assistance to these home health care worker and other front line responders who worked tirelessly for the past three months.
Modeled after the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund, over 20,000 health care workers in the Home Healthcare Workers of America (HHWA) labor union, including 6,000 from the Bronx, would be eligible for the financial assistance. Under H.R. 6906, medical workers, EMS personnel, doctors and nurses would also receive compensation.
“Our members care for elderly and infirm New Yorkers every day in their homes, and over these past months, as COVID-19 devastated our city and our state, our work has helped keep countless thousands out of nursing homes, where the pandemic caused so much destruction, providing some measure of comfort to families,” said Lori Ames, the national secretary and treasurer of the HHWA.
In a written testimony to the U.S. Select Subcommittee on The Coronavirus Crisis, Ames detailed how more than 20,000 home health care workers exposed themselves to the virus while helping to save the lives of a vulnerable population.
“Every day, home care aides are on the front lines, in people’s homes, providing healthcare, other essential work such as shopping, feeding, bathing people who are alone, elderly, physically or mentally disabled, by helping with medication and in many cases companionship,” Ames said.
Ames said that over the course of these months, 539 HHWA members have tested positive for COVID-19, while another 352 have shown symptoms. She added that 11 HHWA members have died from complications related to COVID-19.
“The Home Healthcare Workers of America do not want to be left behind. America’s frontline workers are dying; they are experiencing critical health conditions threatening their lives,” Ames said in her testimony. “Compensation to those impacted by this crisis can be a vital lifeline.”
Local support for this bill include sponsor Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and cosponsors Congressman Eliot Engel, Congressman Jerrold Nadler, Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez and Congressman Peter King.