Nursing Homes Ask For PPE Shipment Info, Staff Negotiate New Two-Year Contract

May 7, 2020

Nursing homes across Illinois claim they haven’t received the amount of personal protective equipment they have asked for. In response, a group of Illinois Senate Democrats are asking the state’s public health department to disclose more information about shipments. 

State Sen. Laura Fine (D, Glenview) said facilities in her district have not received the correct amount of masks, gloves, and other items they ordered in recent weeks-- and have not received an explanation.

“It’s not like they’re just asking for something out of the blue. This is a matter of literally life and death, and we just want to make sure they get the answers they need," Fine said.

While Governor J.B. Pritzker has offered regular updates on overall PPE shipments, Fine and others argue those numbers don’t tell the whole story, like where those shipments are going to.

Fine said the Federal Emergency Management Agency recently let nursing homes across the country know how much PPE they can expect in the coming weeks. The state senator believes Illinois’ public health department could disclose the same information, and has sent a letter asking as much.

“That’s something that I think would be very helpful, and let’s see how we can coordinate this...just to give our nursing homes direction.”

Representatives for IDPH did not immediately return a request for comment.

Separately, Illinois nursing home staff had planned to strike this week on account of PPE shortages and other collective bargaining issues, but a union representing staff said Thursday they have reached a tentative two year agreement with management.

Greg Kelley, president of SEIU Healthcare Illinois, said the union expects to ratify the agreement next week. Under its terms, nurses and other staff at facilities throughout the state will be paid between $14.50 and $15 per hour and receive things like hazard pay while the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

Additionally, nursing home managers have agreed to not require staff to work if there’s not enough protective equipment to go around.

“We are under no illusion. We know that nursing homes are hotspots, but we know that this will help improve conditions for both the residents and for our members,” Kelley said.