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 frontlines.
One way we’re doing this is by creating and donating masks to places like 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East. Our goal is to donate at least one million masks to those on the frontlines with our Mask a Million Challenge.
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 thousands of masks to 1199 for use by their nursing home workers. We plan to donate one million masks total to help nursing home, healthcare, and frontline workers all over the U.S. who are fighting COVID-19.
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. Already, nursing home and assisted living facility deaths account for more than half of COVID-19 deaths in some states.
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 Massachusetts, roughly three quarters of nursing homes have been affected by COVID-19 and more than half of all COVID-19 deaths have occurred in nursing homes. More than a third of the nursing homes in MA reported that their facility has seen 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. Shop for masks for yourself and look for the “Give a Mask” symbol, letting you know a purchase of that product also triggers a mask donation!
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!
C. Dixon likes to read, sing, eat, drink, write, and other verbs. She enjoys cavorting around the country to visit loved ones and experience new places, but especially likes to be at home with her husband, son, and dog.