Heroes Hidden from View: Long-term Care Workers
At this time last year no one could have foreseen how much the world was about to change. The COVID-19 pandemic and our response to it has transformed everyday life for people around the world. It also has transformed our understanding of what it means to risk one’s life on the frontlines, so others can remain safe and healthy.
The pandemic forced millions of Pennsylvanians to adjust to a new way of life, with schools and many businesses converting to online operations in order to limit the spread of the virus, reduce infections and save lives. While many of us were working from home and socially isolating, there were thousands of essential workers who had to continue their duties in person. Among those are essential workers caring for and serving older Pennsylvanians and Pennsylvanians with disabilities.
For far too long the contributions of these workers have been overlooked and underappreciated. Pennsylvania’s long-term care workforce continues to provide needed services and supports to people living in community group homes, intermediate care facilities, nursing homes, assisted living communities and other congregate settings. They also support the more than 116,000 people receiving assistance through the Commonwealth’s home and community-based services program.
After one year of COVID-19, it’s clear that these workers are among the unsung heroes of the pandemic. The essential work they do has kept many people who are at-risk from contracting COVID-19. They have done this essential work at risk to their own health and often at the risk to those they love. They have sacrificed their safety for the greater good and they deserve our respect and our thanks, but more than that, they deserve action.
As we continue to confront this public health crisis, it is more important than ever that we lift up the workforce supporting Pennsylvania’s most at-risk residents. I will work to secure the funds so that this workforce can be compensated with competitive wages and benefits, not only during the public health emergency, but long after this pandemic has faded. The work they do is important to all families across the Commonwealth and across the Nation.
One year into this pandemic, I say thank you to each and every worker on the frontlines of the COVID-19 health crisis. Your compassion, dedication and sacrifice have served as a key pillar of Pennsylvania’s ability to respond to the pandemic. You have kept older adults and people with disabilities safe and healthy, and for that you deserve the gratitude of the people of Pennsylvania.