SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Some healthcare workers are taking a stand for the safety of themselves and their coworkers.

Members of the employee union at Overton Brooks VA Medical Center say they are in the trenches for those fighting on the frontlines in the hospital. They say their goal is a meeting with hospital leaders to address their concerns.

Monday afternoon a small group with the local chapter of the American Federation of Government Employees held an informal rally outside the medical center.

They said employees deserve hazard pay for being on the frontlines of the pandemic, and new personal protective equipment is not easily accessible to employees.

“It is very important, your life depends on it,” said Samantha Gibson, a former VA employee. “Your life. Plus, you know, the patient’s too.”

“We have no way to detect the virus right now,” said Chandra Baker, local union president. “Coming in they’re only checking your temperature. You know, they’re asking you the standardized questions and we have to rely on the honor system.”

In response, Overton Brooks VA Medical Center provided this statement:

“The Overton Brooks VA Medical Center is currently adhering to the same CDC contingency capacity postures the CDC recommends all health care facilities use, and all employees continue to have the appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), as per those guidelines.

Supply levels are being monitored every day to make sure facilities have adequate PPE for the number and types of patients they are seeing. If a facility were to fall below stock levels, the facility would be cross-leveled by another VA facility or region.

Regarding hazard pay
Hazard pay is to compensate employees when risks cannot be reasonably mitigated and employees cannot be safely protected, and that is the opposite of the current environment at the Shreveport VA.