State’s Largest Healthcare Workers’ Union Welcomes Walz Executive Order To Provide DHS Flexibility To Fight COVID-19

Order will allow faster staffing of nursing homes and helps homecare workers and clients be safer

SAINT PAUL – Members and leaders of the state’s largest healthcare union, SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, praised the announcement of Governor Walz’s Executive Order 20-12 today that “allows DHS to temporarily issue waivers or modifications to state requirements to ensure that their services can be delivered to Minnesotans safely and without undue delay, protecting vulnerable Minnesotans and those who care for them.”

CDC-coronavirus-image-23311_rsDelores Flynn, a Roseville mother whose son Scott requires 24-hour-a-day home care to survive, shared why this matters to the thousands of seniors and people with disabilities who receive care in their homes from home care workers.

“For families with loved ones who need care, this crisis is literally life or death. Families like mine are feeling the urgency and fear of the unknown. We need help and support. We have been struggling to keep our current caregivers and worried about the impact of Covid-19 if we don’t have the right people to care for Scott,” said Flynn. “I know through the union that thousands of Minnesota seniors and people with disabilities are sharing the same concerns I have about how we get the care our families need in a safe and efficient way. I am happy to hear that the Governor has waived some in-person requirements that would have slowed down the process of getting Scott the care he depends on. Relaxing background checks and other administrative burdens will allow us to find new workers faster, and right now that is what families across our state need to be safe and healthy.”

SEIU Healthcare Minnesota Executive Board member Melody Nordy, a TMA at the Luther Haven nursing home in Montevideo, shared the importance of this action for that group of workers.

“This is especially important for nursing home workers so we can operate safely under the threat of COVID-19. We need nursing homes to be fully staffed to provide the care our residents need across the state. We must not let the failure to process background checks and other criteria stand in the way of getting people to do this critical work.”

SEIU Healthcare Minnesota President Jamie Gulley, who is currently serving on the Governor’s Covid Advisory Task Force, shared why these actions are so critical to keeping families safe.

“Frontline healthcare workers in our union have been performing heroically throughout this whole ordeal. I am glad the Governor continues to take actions to support and protect these incredible workers. We know that the COVID-19 outbreak requires fast and effective action, especially in matters that directly and immediately affect public health. We know the Governor has the authority and the responsibility to act and are thankful he has taken this important step. As a member of the Governor’s COVID Advisory Task Force, I know this is in line with what many provider, labor, and advocacy groups have urged him to do on this issue.”

In addition to Executive Order 20-12, Executive Order 20-11 allows state agencies to seek federal authority to change or waive some federal requirements applicable to these programs and services. As noted in the Governor’s announcement, DHS provides health care coverage, programs, and services for over 1 million Minnesotans, including groups likely to be significantly impacted by COVID-19 such as older adults, individuals who have disabilities, families with children, and individuals with mental illness. Earlier this week, SEIU Healthcare Minnesota joined over 200 other organizations on a letter calling for actions like these to take place to help ensure Minnesota healthcare workers and families are safe.

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SEIU Healthcare Minnesota represents healthcare and long term care workers in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and home care across Minnesota

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