A handful of the 140 members of the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers at Doctors Hospital of Manteca let their voices be heard on Wednesday morning.
They were among the workers at 11 Tenet Healthcare hospitals throughout the state who took part in the informational picketing event at their facilities. Together, they’re demanding improvements to health and safety conditions as they put their own lives on the line on a daily basis in caring for patients with COVID-19.
“We need better access to the PPE (personal protection) equipment,” said Angie Smith, who is a monitor tech/ward clerk at the Manteca healthcare facilities.
Those picketing in front of Doctors Hospital, 1234 E. North St., included service and technical employees – Certified Nursing Assistants, patient sitters, admitting clerks, phlebotomists, and pharmacy technicians, to name a few.
They held up signs – messages consisted of “Please Protect Everyone” and “We Risk Our Lives to Save Yours” – and even banged the drum to further create awareness, in turn, receiving support by passersby honking their car horn.
Prior to the global pandemic, hospital staffers were allowed frequently to change PPE wear– gowns, masks, etc. – upon entering in and out of rooms. But that’s changed, Smith noted.
“Now, we’re issued just one gown and one mask. Both are to be worn during one whole 12-hour shift,” she said.
The picketing is to create awareness, especially with lives being on the line.
“I have to protect my family when I go home,” said Smith of her household in Lodi consisting of her husband and three children.
SEIU-UHW is currently in negotiations on the matter, according to Davis and union representative Jared Mayhugh.
“We are committed to protecting the health and safety of our patients and staff,” said a spokesperson for Doctors Hospital of Manteca.
The local hospital, meanwhile, continues to be fully operational.
In a statement by Doctors Hospital of Manteca: “Our staff’s focus, as always, is on providing exceptional quality patient care.
“While we value all of our employees who are represented by the SEIU-UHW, we are disappointed that the union is taking this approach. We have only been bargaining with the union on a successor contract since May and will continue to negotiate in good faith in hopes of reaching a successful resolution.
“We are proud of the professionalism and dedication demonstrated by our caregivers and staff during this unprecedented pandemic.”
New cases, hospitalizations
dropping in San Joaquin County
The number of cases of new people inflicted with COVID-19 in San Joaquin County is dropping while those hospitalized continue to drop.
There were 70 new cases Wednesday. That’s down from 167 new cases a day over the weekend and roughly a quarter of what was being reported daily three weeks ago but up 47 in a day from 9 days ago.
The number of people currently with the virus is 1,703, down 29 from Monday.
Postings on the San Joaquin County COVID-19 dashboard on Wednesday as of 10:10 a.m. show 1,703 persons out of 760,000 San Joaquin County residents are currently positive with the virus although they are not necessarily sick. That is the number once you subtract the 14,912 people that health officials have determined to have recovered from the 16,615 cases since March
Many of the recovered may never have been ill.
The mask order and social distancing is designed to protect people from those who may not know they are carrying the virus and who may never show symptoms.
The number of deaths in San Joaquin County is now at 297. That number has not changed since Monday. Of the 297 deaths only 14.1percent did not have pre-existing conditions such as asthma, cardiovascular disease, chronic lung disease, or diabetes.
The site stressed case data after July 27 “is severely delayed due to major technical issues in the State’s electronic reporting system. Data regarding deaths have not been impacted.” It is not clear if there are any other backlogged test results from San Joaquin County yet to be released by the state.
As of Monday there were 36 of 72 beds at Doctors Hospital in use. Six — the same as a week ago — of the beds had COVID-19 patients with two in ICU beds. There were four in ICU beds at DHM a week ago.
Kaiser Foundation Hospital of Manteca on Monday had 18 beds in use, 11 COVID-19 patients, and 4 using ICU beds. That’s one more overall COVID patient and two less in ICU
On Monday there were 130 COVID-19 patients countywide, down 30 from last week. Of those, 38 were using ICU beds compared to 58 last Monday.
COVID-19 patients account for 43 percent of the ICU load — down from 34 percent a week ago. There are 112 ICU beds in use of which 13 were converted beds. That means as a group hospitals in the county are operating at 113 percent of licensed ICU bed capacity.
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