On August 10, 2020, AMSA joined Physicians for Human Rights and a number of other health and human rights organizations to call on the National Governors Association to enact and enforce state-level guidance on healthcare workforce protections during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Recommended standards are derived from the 2009 California OSHA Aerosol Transmissible Disease Standards, which include clear standards for social distancing; face masks; hand sanitizing, washing, and gloves; regular workplace disinfection; increased ventilation; and notification of infections, among other key provisions. Our letter to the National Governors Association also calls for protection from discrimination, intimidation, or dismissal of health workers for speaking out in the face of dangerous conditions.
This letter is intentional in its scope of targeting the National Governors Association. It goes beyond calling on individual healthcare facilities for protections, but also allows for more specific state-level regulation than would be possible on the national level. The American Hospital Association provides guidance and recommendations related to worker protections , but does not have the capacity or the power to enact regulations in this sphere. Likewise, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides national guidance and advisory recommendations for healthcare work protections, but its only actual standard related to this issue “requires employers to provide their employees with a workplace free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm” .
In this context, with a dearth of adequately clear and enforceable protections for healthcare workers working on the frontlines of the pandemic, healthcare workers are at increased risk of reporting a positive test for COVID-19 .
As we continue to create and reinforce a national dialogue that frames healthcare workers as heroes , we must fulfill our obligation to protect their efforts to fulfill their professional obligations. State-level protections are the most effective, clear-cut way of doing just that. That’s why AMSA joined our colleagues in calling for regulations to protect healthcare professionals and trainees in their efforts to care for our nation’s vulnerable. It’s the right, morally sound, and just way forward.
Read the full text here.