COVID source shout-out: Organizing for safety in healthcare settings

A couple of months ago, I wrote about the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC), a group of experts that’s been working on updating CDC guidance for infectious disease safety measures in healthcare settings. The committee’s work has come under scrutiny for failing to actually improve safety with lessons learned from COVID-19.

As outside health experts and advocates push HICPAC to consider improving mask standards, ventilation, and related guidance in healthcare settings, one group has led the advocacy effort: National Nurses United (NNU). This group is the largest nurses union in the U.S., with nearly 225,000 members and a lot of professional experience supporting better healthcare safety.

NNU’s organizing efforts around the HICPAC guidance have included a number of letters and petitions to the CDC, organizing speakers at the public comment sections of HICPAC meetings, and pushing for greater transparency around how the committee makes decisions. The nurses’ organization recently released documents summarizing meetings of HICPAC committee members working on the new infection control guidance, which it received through public records requests. The documents show how this group “has prioritized employer costs and profits over robust protections for health care workers and patients,” NNU says.

I’m writing about NNU’s efforts again now because HICPAC has another public meeting coming up this week, on November 2 and 3. If you’re interested in advocating for the committee to prioritize safety for workers and patients—not costs and profits—you can register to make a comment at the meeting. You can also sign onto a NNU petition asking the CDC to release the draft of HICPAC’s updated safety guidance.

For more context about this issue, see the previous CDD post and this recent episode of the Death Panel podcast.

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