Florida union ad blasts HCA's rationing of PPE despite federal relief funds

The Service Employees International Union will launch a TV ad campaign in Florida accusing Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA Healthcare of threatening layoffs and inconsistently providing workers with personal protective equipment despite receiving federal COVID-19 relief funds, according to The Palm Beach Post.

HCA, a for-profit chain, operates nearly 50 hospitals in Florida, which has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. SEIU represents workers at HCA facilities.

The union's new ad contends COVID-19 cases in Florida are rising, and hospitals are maxing out their intensive care units, the Post reports. 

SEIU also claims the chain has threatened layoffs and "doesn't consistently provide workers with lifesaving PPE," even though HCA received a $5.3 billion federal bailout.

HCA told Becker's the $5.3 billion mentioned in the ad "doesn't align with what we've received, as the union is combining the accelerated Medicare payments that are paid back."

During its second-quarter earnings call on July 22, HCA reported it had received $1.7 billion in emergency relief funds to help offset financial damage from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

HCA also disputed the union's claims regarding layoffs, stating it has not laid off or furloughed any employees due to the pandemic. It has, however, asked the union to give up its demand for wage increases this year, as nonunion employees have. 

Regarding PPE, HCA said: "Currently we have enough PPE to safely and effectively care for patients in accordance with CDC direction for crisis standards of care. Since the spread of COVID-19 continues to strain the global supply of PPE, we have been following CDC guidelines on the conservation and reuse of PPE to ensure that we have the supplies necessary to continue to protect colleagues and patients as the crisis evolves. 

"We have a universal masking policy, which was developed in accordance with CDC guidelines and has been in place since the end of March. It requires masks for everyone in patient care areas and N95 masks for those treating a COVID-positive patient having an aerosolizing procedure."

Betsy Marville, RN, nursing representative for the SEIU chapter, told the Post rationing of PPE is jeopardizing the safety of healthcare workers and that "nurses are very frustrated, very upset with how they are being treated." 

The union's new ad will reportedly play in the West Palm Beach, Tampa, Orlando and Miami markets.

Read the full Post report here


More articles on human resources:
Ascension hospital in Michigan accused of anti-union activity
Temple University Hospital workers seek hazard pay
Employees urge Stanford Health Care to restore lost PTO

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