New York, NY – Nurses throughout the city, state and country were appalled this weekend when President Donald Trump and his Chief of Staff Mark Meadows spent their time during a rally in Wisconsin, just days before the Nov. 3 general election, accusing medical staff at hospitals of intentionally inflating COVID-19 deaths and cases for kickbacks.
Medical surveys paint a far starker picture – hospitals and medical staff are losing money because of COVID-19.
The biggest money makers in hospitals are non-essential services like in-patient mental health facilities and cosmetic surgeries, both of which have been eliminated from many hospitals to make room for the influx of COVID-19 patients.
There have been pay freezes, pay cuts, furloughs and early retirements at many hospitals, according to a survey by healthcare company Merritt Hawkins and The Physicians Foundations.
The National Nurses United (NNU) union found the accusations to be desperate and deflective, but most importantly “dangerous in encouraging Americans to ignore the safety measures so essential to saving lives,” said registered nurse and NNU President Zenei Cortez.
“Nothing has more symbolized this administration’s unconscionable, failed response to this global calamity than President Trump’s insensitivity and callous indifference to the suffering of the more than 220,000 Americans who have died from Covid-19, and the pain for their families devastated by that loss, and the statement by his Chief of Staff abandoning efforts to mitigate this crisis,” Cortez said. “For more than eight months, registered nurses and other health care workers have been putting their lives, their coworkers, and their own families in jeopardy by caring for grievously ill patients, often gasping for breath, and dying from Covid-19.”
Approximately 230 nurses have died and 2,000 health care workers overall have died from the virus, according to Cortez.
Not only has Trump and his administration accused medical personnel of overstating the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths, but they have also reproached them for absconding with personal protective equipment (PPE), according to a statement from the New York State Nurses Association to LaborPress.
“As nurses, we must speak out about unconscionable comments from President Trump in which he accuses healthcare professionals of reporting exaggerated Covid-19 death tolls to raise profits,” said NYSNA President Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez. “Another time he accused healthcare workers of stealing PPE – also a statement without foundation and an insult to our professional integrity.”
Trump’s administration has failed on the fundamental matter of the accurate tracking of healthcare worker sickness and death, according to Sheridan-Gonzalez.
“Infection control requires meticulous gathering of this essential data in order to maintain the frontline of defense,” said Sheridan-Gonzalez. “The administration has consistently discarded science at the expense of healthcare workers and the patients we care for.”
President George Gresham of 1199SEIU, which represents 450,000 healthcare workers in five states and the District of Columbia, found the disregard of medical staff and their sacrifices to be a testament of Trump’s racism and classism.
“At a time when people were literally struggling to breathe as a result of COVID-19, Donald Trump opted to play golf,” said Gresham. “At a time when working people were having to choose between rent and food, Donald Trump went from refusing to wear a mask, to contracting COVID, to claiming he’d been cured less than a week after his diagnosis. And now at a time when the Administration vacillates between dangling a second stimulus package in front of the workers who so desperately need it, and choosing to wait until after the election, he has pushed through a Supreme Court Justice who is poised to serve as the greatest threat to the health of working families in decades. He is unfit for office and must be voted out on November 3rd.”