Public Comments for 01/21/2021 Unknown Committee/Subcommittee
HB1818 - Workers' compensation; presumption of compensability for certain diseases.
As a person of Faith it is my calling to support these areas of concern and I ask you to consider how important these issues are and to vote to approve them!
On behalf of the 9,000 members of the Virginia Professional Fire Fighters, I ask you to SUPPORT HB1818. This legislation seeks to add full-time salaried emergency medical technicians to the list of public safety employees who are entitled to a presumption for hypertension and heart disease. To limit its fiscal impact, this bill provides for a local option and outlines that the presumption will only be provided in those jurisdictions that have authorized such presumption by local ordinance. The Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act provides a presumption for hypertension for many public safety officials, including fire fighters, police officers and correctional officers. However, the statute omitted many EMS providers when the presumption was first established in 1975. While some EMS providers are cross trained as fire fighters and covered within the presumption, that is not the case in every jurisdiction. For example, Virginia Beach has 65 medics that are classified as full-time salary Emergency Medical Technicians and are not included within the definitions outlined in § 65.2-402. Portsmouth has another 27. These EMS providers preform the same type of strenuous activities as the others currently included in the presumption section. Therefore, VPFF supports HB1818 and request that you add emergency medical technicians to the list of public safety employees who are entitled to a presumption for hypertension and heart disease.
My name is Joey Hundley and I am the Deputy EMS Chief for the Virginia Beach Department of EMS. Thank you Representatives Heretick and Convirs-Fowler for introducing this bill and to the Committee for taking the time to review it. This is an important step for our providers since we are a third service (Police, Fire, EMS) department. We have had providers in the recent past who left the department under medical conditions that, had this been in place for us at the time, would have been covered due to the medical condition. Virginia Beach EMS is in favor of the bill and we thank you for your support.
Chair and members of their committee, My name is Kurt Detrick and I serve as a District Vice President for the Virginia Professional Firefighters, an organization that represents almost 9,000 firefighters and paramedics across the commonwealth. I am writing today in STONG SUPPORT of HB1818. Our career EMS providers are exposed to many of the same hazardous environments that firefighters are. It is long over due that they receive the same benefits that our firefighters do. Career EMS providers are exposed to long work hours, lack or sleep, exposures to carcinogens which all have been proven to lead to long term health complications. We are requesting the support and passage of HB1818. Respectfully, Kurt Detrick
Honorable committee members, Thank you for your consideration to include EMS providers under the heart presumption of the Heart and Lung Act. As a non-fire department based agency this has been an item we have longed for since our first year as a full-time career providers in 2004. In March 2020 U.S. News and World Report listed Paramedic as the fourth most stressful job in the United States. We routinely must make decisions away from hospitals regarding our patients health and lives. Multiple studies have shown that high stress jobs have increased occurrences of heart related diseases such as hypertension and heart disease which increases risk of heart attack. With the novel coronavirus, these stresses increase. As a pandemic front line provider we are willing to risk all for others. Many are exposed to the virus even while using all recommended precautions and we routinely see COVID positive patients multiple times a day. The long term effects of the virus are still not completely known but have already included cardiac issues such as palpitations and myocarditis (inflammation of the heart). There is additional stress out of concern that we could bring it home to our families as well. Before the pandemic, our department had a Medic that had suffered a cardiac arrest at work and had thankfully survived, but was unable to return to work. Without the presumption, she was forced to retire at 16 years of service to the citizens and its visitors at a reduced rate. As a husband and father myself, this is concerning. Like the pandemic, taking all precautions like proper diet, exercise, and not smoking is no guarantee that EMS providers won't suffer a cardiac event and not be able to provide for their families. We can, and must do better to care for those who are willing to risk illness and injury to themselves in order to serve others. We do this while away from our families during nights, weekends, holidays, and routinely miss family events just like our public safety partners in Fire and Law Enforcement. It's only right, that we be included under the heart presumption of the Heart Lung Act. Again, I thank you for your consideration. Very respectfully, Michael Brown Captain, Virginia Beach EMS
Delegates, My name is Max Gonano and I am the president of the Virginia Beach Professional Firefighters, IAFF Local 2924. I am writing to ask you to support HB1818 which would give localities the option of including full-time salary career single role EMS providers and EMS volunteers the same kind of workers compensation heart disease presumption that is enjoyed by the firefighters, police officers, sheriffs, and correctional officers in the Commonwealth of Virginia. While many EMS providers are cross trained as Firefighters, thus including them in the current heart disease workers compensation presumption, that is not the case in every jurisdiction. Through a legislative oversight, EMS providers who are not cross trained in firefighting are not covered under workers compensation heart disease presumption. This is wrong. In Virginia Beach there are approximately 68 full-time salary EMS providers that cannot be included in heart disease presumption without this legislation because they are single role providers. This legislative oversight means that EMS providers responding to EMS calls in the City of Virginia Beach do not have the same workers compensation presumptions that are enjoyed by the cross trained Fire/EMS providers in the rest of the Commonwealth. This legislation requested by the City of Virginia Beach, among others, is not an unfunded mandate on localities because it is entirely optional. Voting for this legislation means voting to allow the few localities that have single role career EMS and volunteer EMS if those so choose the option to provide them with the same heart disease presumption that is currently maintained for firefighters, police officers, sheriffs, and correctional officers. This is a matter of parity and a matter of fairness for those that have been on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic for the last 10 months. I ask for your support. Sincerely, Max Gonano President, Virginia Beach Professional Firefighters Local 2924 (757)642-3776 mobile
In favor of programs to better facilitate the development and progress of my community.
My name is Kurt Detrick and I serve as a district Vice President for the Virginia Professional Firefighters, an organization that represents almost 9,000 firefighters and paramedics across the commonwealth. I am writing today in STONG SUPPORT of HB1818. Our career EMS providers are exposed to many of the same hazardous environments that firefighters are. It is long over due for them to receive the same benefits that our firefighters do. Career EMS providers are exposed to long work hours, lack or sleep, exposures to carcinogens which all have been proven to lead to long term health complications. We are requesting the support and passage of HB1818. Respectfully, Kurt Detrick
Here to answer any questions on behalf of DHRM.
Answering questions related to Workers' Compensation Bills
HB1896 - Essential health benefits; abortion coverage.
I am a University of Richmond student, I have been living in Virginia for about two years now, and will probably continue to live here after I graduate. I urge you to support bill 1896 because I believe it is essential to respect a, therefore, provide space for an individual's rational autonomy when considering the procedure. Having coverage of plans will further promote autonomy to an individual considering this procedure because they will have more options to rationalize without the cost overpowering their decision. This bill will protect reproductive freedom that people have a right to access. Without the support for this bill, there would be much economic gatekeeping on reproductive freedom. Many people without funds will be pushed to scavenge for funds. Without this bill, people with extra money to spend through private coverage or any extra funds will have more autonomy because they will have more options for them. Supporting this bill will push for more autonomy for those who need the coverage.
I am Yseth Marie Laboy, a Hispanic wife and mother of three children, two girls and one boy. I am against bill 1896 because it removes the prohibition on the provision of coverage for abortions in any qualified health insurance plan that is sold or offered for sale through a health benefits exchange established or operating in Virginia. Science tells us that abortion is not healthcare. I also know this because I had an abortion and it traumatized me. I do not this trauma be part of the health insurance coverage, my fellow Virginians, and Hispanic community. Thank you.
My name is Megan Blatchford-Harding, and I am a resident of Fairfax County, Virginia. I am testifying today in support of HB 1896, which would allow insurance plans that cover abortion to be traded on the state exchanges. I support this measure because women deserve all safe and legal healthcare procedures to be covered by their insurance. I feel strongly that the State of Virginia should not pick and choose which safe and legal healthcare services are covered by insurance. By supporting this measure, it will remove an unnecessary barrier for Virginian women to access medical care. I strongly urge you to support the amendment to HB 1896. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Good afternoon members of the committee. My name is Morgan Jameson and I live in Merrifield, VA. The exchange is for individuals to receive private healthcare coverage. An individual should be able to select a plan which covers what they may need. Allowing reproductive health to be covered for plans is a no brainer. Many plans cover things people never need but they may need in the future. To not allow the insurance market to offer coverage within their own offerings is restrictive to both companies and individuals seeking coverage. I urge you to please support HB 1896, thank you.
Good afternoon members of the committee. My name is Nikia Miller and I reside in Hampton, VA. My life could have been so different… I was raped at the ages of 18 and 24. At the age of 20, I made the difficult choice to terminate a pregnancy – I knew that I was not ready to be a mother – as starry-eyed and full of “love” that I thought I was, it was not time for me to procreate. I have been fortunate to live in a state where I have been able to make reproductive choices for myself. I have never been told that I couldn’t choose what was right for me, my health, and the way that I have wanted to live. Whereas birth control before the ACA was expensive, I made the choice to purchase it until I was ready to be a mother. When that time came, I was married and ready to be the mother of three that I am now. Now I’m not looking at others who haven’t been able to make the choices that I made as any more or less than I am. In fact, to the contrary, I feel that they should have the RIGHT to do what I did. Twice in my life I have been the supportive friend that I did not have when I had an abortion. In both of those instances, my friends have made choices – one chose to have her baby and the other chose to terminate. In both of those cases, these women made the choices that were right for them – I celebrate them as I celebrate ANY woman who should have the RIGHT to be in charge of their own destinies. My story had a happy ending. I’m okay. Because of that, I will always be advocate for any woman to make decisions for their own health – especially my two daughters. Although they are 8 and 14, at some point in time they will be in the position to make choices that will change their entire futures. And I’ll be that mom to stand by their sides when they make time. In any legislation, the rights of our future female leaders should ALWAYS be at the forefront of our minds – what will they say about the people who are in power who have the chance to advocate for them? Will they look at us and say that we were antiquated and misguided? Or will they look at the things that we tried to accomplish and say “Well done?” I’m going to do everything I can so that the latter will be said about me. Will you? I urge you to support HB 1896. Thank you.
Hello, My name is Rebecca Barwick and I live in Norfolk, VA. As a transgender woman, I know what it is to have my right to healthcare be a topic of political debate. I stand in solidarity with people whose right to reproductive choice is treated as something for others to vote on, rather than the fundamental human right it is. By protecting reproductive freedom, this legislature will be giving individuals, rather than the government, control over their bodies. I urge you to support HB 1896. Thank you.
Good afternoon. My name is Rebecca Leser and I reside in Norfolk, VA. Just as access to healthcare must be an essential right for every person, women must be entrusted to bodily autonomy and to make the best decision for her health in consultation with her doctor. Abortion care is healthcare and must be protected. I strongly support repealing the ban on abortion coverage on the state insurance exchange. I urge you to support HB 1896. Thank you.
Hello, my name is Judy Johnson and I reside in Charlottesville, VA. I believe that it is my right, to decide my personal reproductive health care choices. it is a given for all Virginians and not subject to the votes of politicians who are not medical providers or physicians . I urge you to support HB 1896. Thank you.
Good afternoon. My name is Abbie Hendrickson, and I am a resident of Sterling. I am testifying today in support of HB 1896. I am an intake and support volunteer with the Blue Ridge Abortion Fund. Our clients contact us because they need financial assistance to cover the cost of their procedures—costs that skyrocket when patients have to jump through these politically-motivated hoops. Last year I spoke with a distraught mother who was trying to support her 17-year old daughter, “Julia” with compassion and empathy. Her daughter was pregnant and had been contemplating suicide as her only alternative. This mother had enough money for her daughter’s ultrasound, but not for the procedure itself. Fortunately, our fund was able to meet her needs. The mother called me a couple of days later and thanked me for saving hers and her daughter’s lives. If the mother had access to an insurance plan that covered abortion, this situation would not have reached such a critical life-threatening peak. The Virginians I speak with are seeking reproductive healthcare that is their right to access. It is unconscionable that the state of Virginia has bans on insurance plans that cover abortion that make their access to that healthcare arduous. Please support HB 1896. Thank you for your time and consideration.
I urge you to support SB1276 Hello, my name is Jessica Carlson. I live in Alexandria, Virginia and my representative is Delegate Paul Krizek. I am testifying today in support of House Bill 1896. I have private insurance through my employer, and I am lucky to have been able to stay employed throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and economic consequences. Unfortunately, not all are so lucky – many lost their jobs, and with it, their access to employee-sponsored healthcare, in the middle of a raging pandemic. Many of those who lost their jobs are women of color – in fact, the unemployment rate is nearly 9.2% among Black women and 9% among Latina women, leaving many without healthcare coverage or access. Why should those women now seeking insurance on the state exchanges be denied even the OPTION of finding a plan with abortion coverage? This should not be an ideological or political issue – it is simply a matter of fairness and equality. Women have the right to seek abortion care, and their economic or employment status, or where and how they purchase health insurance, should not infringe on that right. There is the other issue of how this disproportionally affects low-income and marginalized communities, those who have also been more affected by the COVID-19 pandemic both economically and in health. It is unconscionable to me that we would cause potential further harm to women in financial hardship, unemployed or under-employed, and at high risk for a deadly disease. There is no justification for this ban other than the political motivations of those who created it. Virginian women deserve better. For this reason, I urge you to support HB 1896. Thank you for your time and service.
Good afternoon Chair and Committee Members, My name is Galina Varchena and I the POlicy Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia. I am here to speak in support of HB 1896. At NARAL, we believe in personal freedom. And few things are as fundamental as ones rights to bodily autonomy. Freedom also includes the ability to engage in legal commerce between willing parties. In two dozen other states, consumers can purchase the healthcare coverage they want on their exchanges. In Virginia, however, we have placed a prohibition on the insurance exchange so that no plan can cover abortion, even as a separate rider and be sold on the state exchange. We don’t do this with any other legal medical procedure. We have no such restrictions on other medical procedures that those who come here to oppose abortion coverage find equally troubling. And as a consumer, if you don’t have insurance through your employer - your next source of insurance coverage is the state exchange. If you lose your job or are self-employed or for some other reason need to get insurance through the exchange, search as you might- you will not find comprehensive reproductive health coverage in any plan. This is huge government overreach. And during these pandemic times, we need MORE healthcare, NOT less. Restrictions like this one harm those already vulnerable the most. Many patients cannot afford an abortion without ccoverage, they have to borrow money or forgo basic needs like rent, food and other necessities. We know that these kinds of restrictions are designed to prevent people from getting healthcare - to punish those who can least afford it. Despite what you might hear from the other side, this isn’t about taxpayer funding. Federal law effectively deals with that. This is about basic fairness and personal freedom. A consumer should be able to obtain a plan that provides them with the coverage they want, whether they on the state exchange or not. And an insurance company should be able to sell comprehensive coverage on the exchange. I hope you will support this bill.
I, Alberto Calimano, a Hispanic father of 3 children, two girls and two boys, am against HB 1896 because it removes the prohibition on the provision of coverage for abortions in any qualified health insurance plan that is sold or offered for sale through a health benefits exchange established or operating in Virginia. Abortion is not healthcare. Abortion is the gravest violence against a humane being. I know because I aborted my own child and like many father and mothers have been traumatized by this act of violence.
HB1985 - Workers' compensation; presumption of compensability for COVID-19.
I am a nurse working on my local hospital's HIRU (High Intensity Respiratory Unit for non-intubated covid patients). My home med-surg unit was temporarily shut down in November due to a covid outbreak in staff and patients. When my home unit resumed services, it was at 50% capacity due in part to our unit staff being floated to the HIRU and in part because another unit took over half our beds so a second HIRU could be formed. Another med-surg unit closed to provide staff to that new HIRU. Hospital-wise, all RNs and CNAs were told they could be expected to staff the HIRU at some point, and recently even non-clinical staff have been redeployed to serve as gophers on the covid units. The re-deployed staff don't enter patient rooms--though they do hand supplies into the rooms--and the hospital will not provide them N95 masks. We still have an N95 shortage and on HIRU units are required to wear the same N95 for three consecutive 12-hr shifts; this is an improvement over last summer when nurses wore a single N95 for 30 days before the N95 was reprocessed and then worn for another 30 days. My hospital does not provide or allow nurses on non-covid units to wear N95s, nor are we allowed to provide our own N95s. It is not uncommon to admit patients to the HIRU from a non-covid unit, sometimes days after they've been unknowingly infecting staff. Many types of patients are not routinely covid-tested, and no staff is routinely tested. Despite my direct care for covid patients, my employer has never qualified me to be tested, and if I choose to be tested by an outside provider, I am not allowed to work until the test results negative. I have received both doses of the vaccine. To the best of my knowledge, no employees in my health system receives any additional pay or compensation for working directly with covid patients. The effects of covid reach much further than the covid units. All staff are exposed to covid in a variety of ways, such as being infected on the job, being floated to new areas, taking on additional patient responsibilities/loads, and working extra shifts--not to mention the compromises forced by our constant concern that at any point we might be infected and might infect our family. On the HIRU, I average hours a day in a closed room in close proximity to each of my patients. In order to conserve PPE, we take a team approach and cluster care. I assess my patients, obtain and administer meds, draw blood, monitor telemetry and pulse ox, titrate oxygen, coordinate with the entire health care team, and schedule/carry-out zoom calls with family or call them with updates. Yet when I'm in the room I also get vitals, check blood sugar, turn and feed patients, brush their hair and teeth, change linens and gowns, assist them to the chair or bathroom, change briefs, bathe them on the spot if they're soiled, mop their floors, clean the toilet/bedside commode, and empty the trash and linens. We also frequently clean touchpoints outside patient rooms. Health care workers undergo a tremendous risk to provide care for covid-positive patients. Data support a higher infection rate in health care workers. We serve our community and work exhaustively for the health and well-being of the public. If there are negative health ramifications from doing our job, we should be afforded the benefit of Workers' Comp.
I am available to answer questions as a subject matter expert for Workers' Compensation.
I am a Registered Nurse with 35 years experience. I usually work 40 hours a week. Because of the increase in inpatients with COVID-19 infections, I have been working mandatory overtime. My work with patients is up close and personal. Even with PPE, I am more at risk of contracting COVID-19 than any other profession or work. I cannot maintain a social distance of six feet when I am getting a patient out of bed, when I am changing a wound dressing, when I am auscultating lungs, a heart or an abdomen. I spend more time with patients than any other person in the hospital. I sometimes spend up to two hours with one patient at one time and more if that patient has had a change in condition. I cannot work behind glass or by Zoom. Patients come to hospital for nursing care, assessment, observation and education. I keep patients safe by watching and observing trends. I am the sentinel. We are working short staffed as the COVID patients take more nurses. That increases the nurse to patient ratio that I have to work with. On top of that, I volunteered to administer vaccines at UVA. I have given COVID-19 vaccines to staff and the public. Nurses do vital and important work. I appreciate the hand clapping and thanks but my work is misunderstood. I want support and protection. I am part of a serious, expert profession that is not subordinate to, but colleagues of medical doctors, physical therapists, occupational therapist sand other healthcare professions. When everyone else has gone, or does not come to work in a snow storm, I am there. When housekeeping and catering do not turn up, I am there. I already work in difficult conditions and long before COVID-19. I care for patients with many infectious diseases, I worked for many months without a properly fitting N95 mask as the correct one for me was not available. I now have to wear a respirator that is extraordinarily uncomfortable and slips when I sweat. And you sweat when you work hard. That is what I do. I urge those in opposition to work one hour in my shoes, never mind 12-14 hours for 3 three days in a row. But you won't, because that puts you at risk and we do not allow visitors in order to protect our patients.
I am a registered nurse of 50 years and have never witnessed anything like the COVID-19 pandemic. It has had a devastating impact on so many, and particularly those nurses and other health care personnel who work tirelessly every day to care for those afflicted with the virus. Throughout my career, we have also experienced a nursing shortage, regionally. We can't afford to not take care of those who are caring for others. Show that YOU care and please support HB 1985. Thank you. Respectfully, Janet Haebler MSN RN
I am a Professor Emerita from Shenandoah University and up until five years ago, practice clinically in a rural hospital. I have been overwhelmed at the tragedy before us with COVID-19 crisis and the burden on the healthcare system and healthcare personnel. These professionals place themselves in harms way and often did not/do not have the personal protective equipment or the TIME to exercise every precaution to prevent contracting the disease since the staffing is inadequate for the demands and needs of the patients. Please provide workers' compensation to the healthcare workers if they contract COVID-19. God bless each of them for their fearless battle against this invisible foe. Support HB 1985
Please consider putting these bills into effect.
Please support our front-line workers, sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, aunts, and uncles.
This is very necessary legislation for all front line workers.
I am a retired nurse. My younger colleagues caregiving up time and families to care for COVID-19 patients. Please support HR-1985 and support those people who are giving everything to care for those in need. Thank you.
As a nurse care manager for Bon Secours Mercy Hospital employees- I see first hand how many front line healthcare workers are effected financially by COVID-19 illness. And the lack of compensation specially for those who have prolonged recovery. This effects not only those who require inpatient admissions, but also those who are managed in the outpatient setting requiring cardiology, pulmonology, neurology visits in addition to their primary care physicians. Co-insurance, copayments add up for many and there is no compensation or deductions as there is no distinction between work and community exposure. For my patients they use vacation time for one week and then are placed on short term disability which is only 60% of their pay. Please support our front line workers by showing their risks are compensated!
Hello I am writing in support of HB 1978 workers compensation for COVID-19. As a registered nurse currently working in a ambulatory clinic with the Active Duty population myself and co-workers are put at greater risk for exposure to patients who have COVID. Since the Pandemic last year we have had multiple cases within our clinics put staff at risk and reducing the work force due to staff having to quarantine or isolate. While my counterparts in the hospital settings are feeling more of the impact from COVID-19. This impacts you not only physically but mentally. Having to choose between who gets a bed or not. Who gets one of the fr vents and who doesn’t. There will be long term affects from that healthcare workers like myself will have even after the pandemic.
In favor of programs to better facilitate the development and progress of my community.
Pre-Covid I was an inpatient surgical nurse. When the pandemic arrived, my unit was converted to a Covid unit and my life was instantly changed. I'm sure you're aware that we had to learn as we went through this pandemic. Recommended treatments, medications, and prevention were ever changing as the world as a whole tried to figure out how to tackle this. As a nurse I have spent the last 11 months on a rollercoaster. The elation of making inroads in care was quickly doused by the increasing stress brought on by patient loss, understaffing, stress of low PPE supplies, and having to deal with people in our lives outside of the hospital promising us this thing is "just a hoax". We tackled this head on as professionals do. With no increase in pay, but often an increase in required extra shifts, we have done our best to be the best we can for our patients. We do all we can to keep ourselves and our families safe. We distance from our loved ones, wear our masks on our days off, and strip down outside of our homes in 30 degree weather so we're not bringing scrub inside. We put ourselves on the line to help other people. We walk into the Covid unit every day with as much courage and positivity as we can. I have been coughed on, urinated on, and vomited on. We are screened before each shift because contracting Covid under these work condition is a very real possibility. I would be much safer staying home. It is for this reason that essential frontline workers should be covered under workman's comp in the event that they test positive for Covid. Healthcare workers, EMTs, police officers, firefighters, corrections officers, and teachers required to do in person classes should all have this benefit available to them. I urge you to vote for this cause. We'll be paying attention. Thank you for taking the time to read my comments.
To Whom This May Concern: I am a nurse. I have been a nurse for the past 20 years. Early in my career I worked in critical care as a Neuro ICU nurse. Then, for 13 years I worked as a civilian medevac/flight nurse. For the past 3 years I have had my boots on the ground in a community hospital Emergency Dept. COVID is crushing nurses. Hospital administrators are crushing nurses. The past 10 months have been brutal but the weeks post Thanksgiving are devastating. Hospitals focus on low volumes and ignore the high acuity. There is no support for floor nurses. My administrators leave at 14L30 every day. Not once have they donned PPE and cared for a critical ill COVID patient. Our "heroes" have zero protection if they catch COVID. You are forced to use your accrued paid time off (your vacation time). There are no protections for those that daily put their lives at risk to care for others. Everyday we gear up, have unsafe patient ratios, risk our lives, risk our licenses due to staffing and risk taking this virus home to our families. Everyday we are the ones grasping the hands of the dying listening to them struggle to breathe, listening to patients beg us to save them and beg us to tell their families they love them. Of course, due to the hypoxia they can only utter 1-2 words at a time. We are the ones doing CPR on bodies that are rotting on ventilators because families won't make their loved one a DNR. We are the ones using our own phones to FaceTime with families so that they can say goodbye. We are the ones trying to hold it all together for our patients, our colleagues and our families-but who is there for us? No one to be quite frank. Instead we are screamed at and threatened with violence daily in the ER because families won't accept the visitation policy. We are asked to do more with less-putting our licenses on the line-and we are asked to do CPR, pronounce a patient, bag their body and then check in the next patient. And in between clean and decon the COVID room because there is no one to help with that either. And let's not forget that we are getting 1 mask per week. But we are "heroes." What I know for sure is that the burnout crisis, and the providers that will permanently leave healthcare because of the COVID pandemic and how we are treated by our facilities, may be an even greater crisis than the one we face right now. Simple assurances to protect the health and safety of those on the front line would make a significant impact. Speaking from the heart-if things don't change & if support is not given to the frontline workers think about who is going to care for your loved one-not me, not my friends, not my colleagues. We will have left the profession. The "hushed" secret in this pandemic is the horrific treatment of the bedside provider by hospitals and corporations and quite frankly our elected officials. I am begging you to please do something. Protect those at the bedside before there is no one left at the bedside
On Dec. 2, I started to get sick but never thought it was Covid 19 as a nurse we never take care of ourselves like we do our patients. On Dec. 4 I tested positive for Covid and immediately started to quarantine because my son has chronic asthma and my mother is over 75. While isolating I progressively got worse and on Dec. 10 I was bought to the ER with low saturations. The physician did an x-ray and told me I had Covid pneumonia. I asked the physician if I could have any antibiotics and was told it was nothing he could give me accept something for my cough. I was told if my symptoms got worse to return to the ER. I was sent home to die. I asked my mother to go to the store and buy me a pulse oximeter. On Dec. 13 I was back in the ER symptoms worse and barely able to breath. I felt like I was drowning and the same physician who sent me home was my doctor. When he saw me he just looked like he couldn't believe how bad I had gotten in 3 days. The next thing I know I had another doctor and was being admitted to the hospital for hypoxia and Covid pneumonia. My story goes on and fortunate after a week in the hospital I was able to go home but that feeling that you are going to die to wishing you just would die was real for me and as a nurse I know that Covid patients are suffering everyday and they don't know to go out and buy a pulse oximeter so that they can monitor their oxygen levels so that when they are sent home they actually can see they are getting worse and know to go back to the hospital. I was fortunate but many are not over 400,000 people have died from Covid and something needs to be done. This is just a portion of my story and I am happy to speak to anyone who would like to hear the rest.
I am a nurse on the ICU at VCU MCV, a COVID Unit from the beginning. This is a common sense legislation. Please support us, who have fought for Virginians since the beginning of this pandemic. We put ourselves and our families in harms way every day to save lives in the community. This virus is more contagious and deadly than anything in generations. People are dying from it on my unit every week. We have received no compensation, extra staffing, or rewards of any kind. Please care for those of us that contract this disease while fighting for all of us. Thank You Ry Bergum RN BSN VCU Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit
Hi, I would like to pass the Covid-19 workers compensation presumption law which is HB 1985 Hurst. I am a Critical care nurse working in Veterans Hospital. We have many of our employees who had affected by covid in our unit as well as in our hospital. Actually there was an outbreak of Covid- 19 in one of the unit because of unidentified covid patients. In the beginning of this pandemic, not all the patients were not tested because of the uaavailability of diagnostic kits and many of our nurses got this disease from patients who were undaignosed as covid in the first place. They still suffer from the affer effect of it. In my experience as a critical care nurse , if the patient is being coded or going to fall, we risk our lives and our families lives in order to save the patient. During the code event we wont get enough time to use all the Personal Protective Equipment(PPE) before entering the patients room. Our ultimate goal is to save the patients life even if risk our own health. That is a nurse's Conscience. Many of our nurses are physically, mentally and emotionally affected by this pandemic. So far we have not recieved any compensatory pay or benefits. I would like the congress to pass the law for all the employees working in covid situation should get the benefit of complensation. Thank you
I am a nurse working at a local hospital in the Richmond area. While my children attend daycare, the school is diligent about social distancing, mask wearing, and handwashing. I, too, am diligent about these behaviors. I came down with COVID in the beginning of this month, and I believe I contracted the virus in the hospital. My entire family became infected, including my four year old and my six year old. My husband was affected the worst. Additionally, I missed two weeks of work as a result. I believe that Workers Compensation should cover the time that I, and anyone else that likely contracted the illness in their line of work, especially front-line workers, missed and any medical expenses that occur as a result of my illness. Thank you.
Here to answer any questions on behalf of DHRM.
I support the worker's compensation for COVID- 19. There are a lot of workers that are struggling to pay their bills because of illness or a dependent being ill which makes them have to lose wages because of it. Most of these workers have lost income because of their spouse dying or being ill from COVID-19. I support worker's compensation, please pay the workers while they adjust to changes in their lives.
I am a RN at Carilion Giles Community Hospital and work in the SCU with Covid-19 patients. Unfortunately, I have cared for those suffering and gasping for air with no family or clergy at their side. Nurses and CNA's have been the one's holding the hands of those taking their last breath. Many staff on our unit have contracted Covid-19, requiring extended days off work. Carilion no longer pays for time off r/t Covid-19. They assume either outside exposure or that the staff member was not wearing the PPE properly. This is unacceptable! Health care workers should not have to go into financial distress due to the fact of willingly caring for Covid-19 patients. Please support this bill and health care workers. Thank you! Patricia Miller, BSN, RN, CCRN, FNP-S
My former husband, the father of my child died on January 15, 2021. He would have turned 60 today. He was exposed at his place of employment. He received a text message on Sunday night December 13, 2020 informing him that one of his co-worker's had tested positive. He started feeling bad later that week, went to the ED on Monday 12/21/2020 and never came home. My daughter just moved back to the area with her son to be closer to us and is now having to bury her father. Her 3 year old son keeps asking where his granddaddy is. This is awful! Employer's who do not test or mandate strict precautions need to be responsible and Worker's Compensation should cover these expenses.
Last Spring, I contracted Covid-19 while directly working on a inpatient Covid-19 unit. This was not my normal area of employment at the Hospital. I have been a Registered Nurse for 24 years. I normally work in a Outpatient Surgery Center on the Hospital's campus. However, since elective surgeries were shut down, I needed to work to provide for my family. So, I went to a inpatient Hospital unit directly working with Covid-19 patients that were positive and being ruled out. After a month of working on that unit where I had to re-use supplies on a consistent basis I acquired Covid-19 and was very ill. I have asthma which is controlled and has been for quite some time and was probably in the best shape of my life. But I am here to tell you that this virus knocked me down. At times I could not even walk up my stairs to get to my bedroom, I had to figure out how to breathe and survive. At one point I had to go to the ER for severe chest pressure. Also, my Husband who has multiple sclerosis also got the virus from me. He was actually sicker than me and even longer than me. However, his employer which is a bank took care of him from the start enacting emergency leave for a minimum of 2 weeks and instructed him he would have it for 7 weeks at a minimum. You ask how do I know I gave it to him? He works from home because of his multiple sclerosis. I want you to imagine that you have kids, just like my girls who were 11 and 13 at the time, They in addition to my Louisa Neighborhood/community and my Church, Hopeful Baptist provided meals, checked on us constantly, provided groceries, took our trash to the dump, fed our chickens, mowed our lawn and countless other tasks that needed to get done. My children were the ones who poured our ginger-ale, made our jello, got us popsicles and soup just so we could stay hydrated. Recently, I went to a Workmen's Compensation Hearing and presented my case, I am currently waiting on the decision. Although I was paid in full, I went because no one knows what the future holds for Covid-19 survivors and I contracted this virus while employed! I feel strongly about this because my Dad died early from getting Asbestos at his place of employment so many years ago and it took multiple people to stand up for themselves in a court of law. I am hoping as Legislators that you take a moment to process if I was your daughter or loved one, what would you want for them. I almost gave my life taking care of others with no concern for myself. Again, I want you to hear I almost died from this virus while helping and caring for others who needed my expertise and care at their time of need!!!! I would love to share more but I currently am working and only had a few moments to write this, that's how important I feel about it!!! So please I would have been more than willing to appear in person had I known about this hearing.
Please support the COVID-19 workers compensation presumption legislation. As an APRN caring for COVID patients and seeing the impact of COVID on my colleagues, nurses need this legislation. We need to care for the caregivers/nurses. We need to be supported for our work and dedication to caring for these patients.
As a nurse, I think that it is critically important that those working with covid patients have access to worker's compensation coverage when they become exposed to or infected by covid as a consequence of their job caring for sick and dying patients. We ask healthcare providers to serve their communities, month after month. The least we can do is ensure that they have some minimal degree of financial protection if they become ill as a consequence of this work serving their communities. I encourage support of this legislation.
Dear honorable representatives of the house subcommittee L&C I am both a doctorally prepared advance practice nurse in the hospital and in an outpt facilty owned by the same health care system. I was exposed and diagnosised with COVID from my work exposure as it was wide spread to many of us. I have been proud of how my employer has executed a plan to take care of patients. However, I have been more than concerned about the care of employees. In brief, I found out accidentally that I had been exposed at a work related wide spread exposure, which impacted my exposure to those in my "circle" (put my 90 year old mother at risk, my daughter tested +; my grandkids them missed 2 weeks of traditional school), had to find my own testing center, and had to use my limited PTO (new to this position) for my time off. I know of many non health care businesses that are taking better care of their employees, covering testing, time off etc., than our own health care systems. Yet everyday, we get up and put our health and the health of our loved ones at risk. We need your support! Dr. Rosie Taylor-Lewis, DNP, ANP-BC, GNP, PMHNP-BC
I have been caring for COVID-19 positive patients since it's arrival to our county in a critical care setting. During my typical shift, at least four of my five patients will be COVID-19 positive. The patients I care for are weak, confused and anxious. They are medically fragile and code quickly. I have always volunteered to take these patients knowing that I have increased risk. I spend much of my twelve hour shift in PPE, trying to provide quality care to scared people. I sit at the beside and hold hands to comfort my patients because of their panic attacks and isolation. I have to run into rooms to keep patients from falling because they removed their oxygen and have become confused. I have helped with CPR on patients that are only later confirmed to be COVID-19 positive . PPE gowns and gloves rip, masks slip during care and anxious patients grab at PPE as they cough in our faces. We reuse PPE. Cohort studies report frontline HCWs have a significantly increased risk of COVID-19 infection. For persons working in a healthcare setting, COVID-19 is an occupational disease, and should be compensable under the Workers' Compensation Act. We should not have to prove contact as it is nearly impossible.
My name is Holly Zimmerman; I have been working as an RN for 34 years. It is the only job I know. When I got sick with COVID-19 on July 27, 2020, I had seizures and a severe respiratory infection. I subsequently developed long-haul syndrome with cognitive deficits and vision changes. I have been so weak I require physical therapy due to frequent falls. Among a multitude of other symptoms. Since I contracted COVID-19 at work, I was not able to collect Unemployment or Workman's compensation due to the CARES act. This translates to 6 months of absolutely NO income. I have been living off my 401K and receiving public assistance. I am in the process of selling my car. COVID-19 has ruined my life as I knew it. My neurologist doesn't think I will be able to return to nursing at the bedside due to cognitive losses. I also have changes in my heart function. I get frustrated because I miss my patients. Nursing is all I ever wanted to do. In my opinion and through research, the CARES act was TO quickly created. By excluding healthcare providers, a situation has been created that has destroyed many healthcare workers financially. No one could predict there would be long-term consequences from COVID-19 or that so many would lose everything, including their life. Passage of HB 1985 will help thousands regain what they lost a financial future.
Please support HB1985
As a nurse on a COVID-19 unit, I saw patients struggling for every breath. One patient was on the unit for almost 2 months while we supported his oxygenation. He needed high-flow nasal cannula and an oxygen mask most of that time. When he eventually left the unit, it was to get a lung transplant because the scarring from his battle with COVID had damaged his own lungs too badly. Our protective masks have to be so tight, they are leaving marks on our faces for hours after our shifts end. This has become the new normal but we should not settle for this world that COVID has made for us. We should not become complacent with the lives lost or scarred forever.
As a frontline nurse in a busy Newport News Emergency Department, I contracted the COVID -19 virus and was denied to return to work for 14 days, with no pay unless I wanted to use my hard-earned vacation time. I should not have to use vacation time to cover living expenses (bills, gas, insurance) when I put myself on the frontlines to save lives. A workman's compensation presumption legislation will alleviate the burden of meeting my needs for wages, associated medical and ongoing care expenses, disability benefits, and funeral assistance. Please support HB 1985!!
Mr. Chairman Thank you for allowing me to present these comments concerning HB 1985 concerning COVID 19. This bill is quite different than all of the rest of the bills you will be seeing as it only relates to Health Care Providers. This bill does nothing for firefighters, EMS providers and so forth. The code section referenced , 8.01-581.1 which defines "Health Care Providers", it does not relate EMS providers. Even though a reference is made to emergency medical attendant or technician, these are not the providers that are in 32.1-111. EMS providers are under the Department of Health and not Health Professions. Therefore the organizations that I represent are OPPOSED to this piece of legislation. Thank you for the opportunity to provide these written comments.
HB2036 - Virginia Employment Commission; communications with parties, use of electronic means, report.
HB2080 - Workers' compensation; presumption of compensability for certain diseases.
Here to answer Workers' Compensation related questions on behalf of DHRM.
Asking that Virginia pass HB 2080
I support this bill.
As firefighters and EMTs; our job is killing us. EMTs in Virginia should enjoy the same health benefits as firefighters; inadequate as they are. Workers across Virginia and across industry need to know who is on our side. Vote yes on HB2080.
I work in the Fire and EMS service and I support this bill. EMS personnel are exposed to COVID-19 among other diseases and they have limited PPE and in a non-sterile environment. They have nothing to protect them from losing everything if they get this disease. I have already scene several of my EMS colleges contract COVID from work. Please support and pass this bill.
Hello! Thank you for bringing this important subject to light. As a single role paramedic for the first 17 years of my career, it always seemed shortsighted that single role paramedics where overlooked when it comes to coverage under Heart and Lung. As part of our job, we breath the same diesel exhaust (a known cancer causing carcinogen) as our firefighter colleagues; the same toxic smoke from a building fire while on scene to provide first aid to crews. I look forward to the passage of this very important legislation. Sincerely, Jason Schmauder
Please support HB 2080 and take care of Paramedics who take care of others. We deserve coverage for occupational hazards whether employed as firefighters or not. The time has come to recognize and acknowledge the physical toll that this line of service takes on a body. Thank you!
My name is Max Gonano and I am the president of the Virginia Beach Professional Firefighters, IAFF Local 2924. I am writing to ask you to support Del. Convirs-Fowler’s HB2080 which would give localities the option of including full time salary career single role EMS providers the same kind of workers compensation heart disease presumption that is enjoyed by the firefighters, police officers, sheriffs, and correctional officers in the Commonwealth of Virginia. While many EMS providers are cross trained as Firefighters, thus including them in the current heart disease workers compensation presumption, that is not the case in every jurisdiction. Through a legislative oversight, EMS providers who are not cross trained in firefighting are not covered under workers compensation heart disease presumption. This is wrong. In Virginia Beach there are approximately 68 full-time salary EMS providers that cannot be included in heart disease presumption without this legislation because they are single role providers. This legislative oversight means that EMS providers responding to EMS calls in the City of Virginia Beach do not have the same workers compensation presumptions that are enjoyed by the cross trained Fire/EMS providers in the rest of the Commonwealth. This legislation requested by the City of Virginia Beach, among others, is not an unfunded mandate on localities because it is entirely optional. On Line 37, this bill outlines that those EMTs “employed by any locality that has authorized such presumption by ordinance.” Voting for this legislation means voting to allow the few localities that have single role career EMS the option to provide them with the same heart disease presumption that is currently maintained for firefighters, police officers, sheriffs, and correctional officers. This is a matter of parity and a matter of fairness for those that have been on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic for the last 10 months. I ask for your support.
My name is Kurt Detrick and I serve as a district Vice President for the Virginia Professional Firefighters, an organization that represents almost 9,000 firefighters and paramedics across the commonwealth. I am writing today is STONG SUPPORT of HB2080. Our career EMS providers are exposed to many of the same hazardous environments. It is long over due for them to receive the same benefits under that our firefighters do. Career EMS providers are exposed to long work hours, lack or sleep, exposures to carcinogens which all have been proven to lead to long term health complications. We are requesting the support and passage of HB2080. Respectfully, Kurt Detrick
HB2121 - State Corporation Commission; business entities filings.
HB2207 - Workers' compensation; presumption of compensability for COVID-19.
It is critical that you support HB2207. Our Corrections Officers work hard to provide a safe environment for the offenders of the Commonwealth to serve their sentences and prepare them for a productive re-entry to society. They play a critical role in keeping our communities safe. If one of our Corrections Officers were to be unfortunate enough to contract this deadly virus in the line of duty, they shouldn't be burdened with the need to prove they contracted the virus in the workplace. They deserve this protection due to the nature and environment in which they work while serving the citizens of Virginia. Thank you for your consideration and support. Charles (Bubba) Craddock President National Coalition of Public Safety Officers, CWA Local 2201
This bill will provide certain workers with the presumption of illness for their occupations from COVID-19. This legislation is needed for the uniformed corrections employees of Virginia's Department of Corrections. Correctional officers are often forced to come into contact with inmates that suffer from many infectious diseases. The closed environment of a correctional facility and responsibilities that officers have while on duty increase the risk of exposure that these officers have in becoming infected. We support reporting this bill and we ask for your vote in its favor. This bill will make a real difference for the men and women who work on these posts. Del. Jones' budget amendment is listed below. Thank-you.
Our Union along with our Sister Local in Richmond represent Corrections Officers in the VA Department of Corrections at all facilities across Virginia. All law enforcement officers, corrections officers and emergency medical service personnel deserve to be protected with this presumption due to the immediate threat they all face from coming in contact with the virus daily. There have been tremendous numbers of COVID-19 outbreaks in the VA Correction Facilities since the outbreaks started in March of 2020. Virginia DOC staff and inmates are at great risk due to the confined and close housing environments, that exist at all these facilities. Please support HB2207 and show law enforcement, corrections officers and EMS Personnel that Virginia stands with them in the work they do every day. Chuck Simpson President NCPSO/CWA Local 2204 Roanoke VA
I am available to answer questions as a subject matter expert for Workers' Compensation.
Please consider putting these bills into effect.
In favor of programs to better facilitate the development and progress of my community.
Here to answer any questions on behalf of DHRM.
Answering questions related to Workers' Compensation Bills
The Virginia Sheriffs Association supports HB 2207. There are hundreds of COVID cases in Virginia’s Sheriff’s offices and one death of a deputy sheriff just last week. Deputy Sheriff’s in jails, on patrol and in our courts are exposed daily to this virus as a direct result of their profession.
I recommend support of Delegate Jones bill. Working families in Virginia need to know they are protected when their essential jobs continue to make them susceptible to potentially contracting COVID-19. There should not be such an unprotected risk while they are working to provide for their families. We represent telecom employees who perform work each day in customer's homes and businesses. This puts them at risk for COVID-19 daily. We also represent Officers in the Virginia Department of Corrections, who are at extreme risk of contracting the virus because they work daily in enclosed areas with positive and potentially positive cases. As of today, there are active COVID-19 cases that include 704 offenders and 337 VADOC staff members across the commonwealth. Please join us and the working families of Virginia in supporting HB 2207.
On behalf of the more than 9,000 Virginia Professional Fire Fighters, I rise in support of HB2207 and thank Delegate Jones, as well as Senator Vogel and Senator Saslaw for bringing this critically important legislation forward. Since the beginning of the pandemic Virginia’s firefighters and paramedics have been on the frontlines providing emergency medical care and transporting very sick patients with COVID-19 to the hospital. We do so in uncontrolled environments, requiring us to be in close proximity and for prolonged periods of time. Despite the best safety protocols and increased levels of PPE we are not immune to COVID-19 and the number of cases among those in uniform continues to rise. However Virginia’s Workers Compensation Act falls short of providing assurances that our firefighters and paramedics will be protected when they are infected with COVID-19 through an exposure to a sick patient. HB2207 has language at the request of our localities and insurance providers. • On lines 47 – 49, the legislation requires “a positive diagnostic test for COVID-19, an incubation period consistent with COVID-19, and signs and symptoms of COVID-19 that require medical treatment.” • Additionally, to curb the fiscal impact, language was added on lines 89-94 to establish a window for a COVID-19 diagnosis between March 12, 2020 through December 31, 2021 These men and women proudly serve our communities across Virginia everyday, it is imperative that our firefighters serving can access benefits that they valiantly deserve should they require medical care. Please support the bill, thank you!
HB1754 - Employer or other person; retaliatory discharge of employee prohibited.
There is no reason why such a discriminatory behavior is accepted. Protecting the employment of hard-working individuals must be the priority of each legislator.
I support HB 1785 and HB 1786 because every year farmworkers come to Virginia to work hard to put food on our tables; they pay taxes and contribute to the local economy. So, what is the excuse for not including them in the minimum living wage? Support #Farmworkers in Virginia. We need to leave behind racist policies. Farmworkers deserve a living wage. I also support HB1754 and HB1780 because Virginia is one of the worst states for worker protections and we need to start doing the bare minimum for workers who have gone through hell this pandemic.
Some argue that solar panels will require too much land. Much land area in the U.S., however, is already dedicated to industrial uses and a significant portion represents abandoned uses. This bill for Virginia Brownfield and Coal Mine Renewable Energy Grant Fund makes tremendous sense. The bill awards grants on a competitive basis to support wind, solar, or geothermal projects sited on formerly mined lands or brownfields. Renewable energy development on previously disturbed land rather than high-value fields and forests should be promoted. This bill will also create opportunities in Southwest Virginia ensure they are a part of the transition to clean energy. Please support the passage of this bill.
We respectfully oppose HB 1754. We feel that requiring an employer to prove what they were not thinking when making a determination to discharge an employee for cause is just not possible. How would a person prove what they were not thinking? Any employee who is facing a termination for cause who may be filing a workers comp claim or who has filed one need simply to charge that is the reason for the dismissal and again, how would the employer possibly disprove that assertion? This bill, if passed, would possibly cause any work performance documentation leading up to the decision to terminate the employee to be irrelevant. Please vote NO on HB 1754. Thank you
We are opposed to this bill. The law already prohibits retaliatory discharge against an employee for filing a workers compensation claim. This bill would effectively make it impossible to terminate an employee who has filed a workers compensation claim for any reason. Employers should not be able to discharge an employee just for filing a workers compensation claim, something already prohibited by the law. However, making it difficult to discharge an employee who is acting unsafely in the workplace unjustly creates a hazard for other employees.
The VEA supports this bill.
The Virginia Education Association supports HB 1754 by Delegate Carter. We urge the committee to report HB 1754 favorably from committee. Thank you.
HB 1754 Our opinion is that this bill, if passed as written, would make it illegal for an employer to ever discharge an employee who had submitted a workers compensation claim. How could an employer EVER prove that the reason for the discharge wasn't the sole reason. It is impossible to prove a negative. HB 2032 First, domestic workers in Virginia may be covered by a workers compensation policy. If they are a sole proprietor, an LLC, or a corporation they may buy a workers compensation policy and opt to cover themselves. If they are full time employees of another, their employer can purchase a workers compensation policy to cover them. This can be accomplished in both by adding the WC 00 03 14 A. (Ed. 07-11). WORKERS COMPENSATION AND EMPLOYERS LIABILITY COVERAGE FOR RESIDENCE EMPLOYEES endorsement to the policy. Requiring multiple employers to buy a workers compensation policy for one domestic employee (if they work for more than one employer, which is often the case) could be VERY problematic as there could be a question as to which policy would apply if there is an injury where the time and place of the injury is not obvious. This could cause a serious delay in payments to the domestic employee while the insurance companies decide which one has the coverage. There could also be other issues if there are multiple policies. Please, let's discuss this further so that we can avoid any confusion and unintended consequences.