Statement from Roxey Nelson of 1199SEIU Florida on Healthcare Staffing Crisis, Hurricane IanSeptember 30, 2022
“It’s inspiring how our Florida healthcare workers have put themselves in harm’s way to care for others in Hurricane Ian, just as they have for more than two years on the front lines of the Covid-19 pandemic. But it’s sad and angering that they face even greater risk due to a critical staffing shortage created by employers that put profits over people, and state leaders who allow this to happen.
“Not having enough staff in nursing homes and hospitals is unsafe every single day for both patients and caregivers, but dramatically more difficult and dangerous in a deadly emergency like Hurricane Ian. Without enough caregivers, who will move, protect and care for sick, frail and elderly patients during an evacuation or sheltering in place when the storm hits?
“This crisis has been building for decades because giant hospital companies and nursing home operators – which receive billions of our tax dollars – are driven primarily by their profit margins and refuse to properly protect and invest in patient care and caregivers. So many of our true healthcare heroes, especially in nursing homes, carry out their critical work for near-poverty wages.
“In Florida, we’ve had a legislature and governor’s office for 20 years too friendly to big business and their lobbyists, and complicit in this failure of care. If we don’t fix this crisis soon and/or elect new leaders who will truly put the needs of the people first, our entire healthcare system is put at risk even when we’re not being hit by a pandemic or hurricane.”
Roxey Nelson is Executive Vice President of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, the largest union of healthcare workers in Florida, representing more than 25,000 active and retired caregivers in about 80 nursing homes and 30 hospitals across the state.