Healthcare workers: Don’t praise them, pay them

Illustration by Amanda Dixon-Shropsphire | The Signal

Healthcare workers are stretched thin as hospitals remain overcrowded and nurses describe apocalyptic working conditions. These workers are on the front lines watching patients succumb to a new and frightening disease every day. While the press seems to sing their praises, their bosses have other ways of thanking them for their efforts in controlling the global pandemic. 

Healthcare workers compare to restaurant workers in total furloughs. They are being fired en masse as hospitals lose money thanks to fewer visits to the E.R. 

The call for healthcare workers to come out of retirement and skip ahead in school to meet the need for essential workers is canceled out by the health industry’s losses. While they are firing the ones they deem “non-essential,” they are working their essential crowd to the brim as confirmed cases skyrocket. 

Doctors and nurses are being told that they will not receive hazard pay for working directly with COVID-19 patients, and those who contract the disease will not receive paid time off

So, with no additional pay for working with highly infectious patients and possibly contracting the disease, their employers must have taken the necessary precautions to reduce the risks, right? In reality, workers are being fired for demanding better gear or speaking out against their hospital’s lack of essential resources. 

Meanwhile, every channel is blasting advertisements with slow zooms over healthcare workers’ faces, praising them for their selfless sacrifice. But it shouldn’t be a sacrifice. It is possible to protect our healthcare workers from contracting the virus on the front lines, but the healthcare industry would rather sacrifice human lives than open up their pocketbooks.

Doctors, nurses and the countless other staff members such as custodians and secretaries forced to work overtime during a pandemic are not “heroes.” They are not sacrifices the healthcare industry can parade around to distract us from their negligence and abuse. 

Instead of paying to air these patronizing advertisements on every other channel, why not invest that money into the workers? Instead of having the Air Force fly over hospitals, costing a whopping $60,000 per hour, why not have the government pay these workers?

They don’t need your thoughts and prayers; they need the money they deserve for handling these cases, the equipment to stay safe and additional staff so that they are not stretched to the breaking point working and dying during a global pandemic.