Vice-President elect Kamala Harris called a registered nurse in Chicago on Thanksgiving to thank her for her work on the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I know it’s personal for you, and I know that it requires mental and emotional and physical and spiritual energy and power that you give to it. So thank you,” Harris said to Talisa Hardin in a video posted to Facebook.
The video was posted by Bonnie Castillo, executive director of National Nurses United (NNU), and Harris also posted her side of the call.
A NNU representative told CNN that the phone call lasted 15 minutes.
Harris reportedly spoke to Hardin about the Defense Production Act, which is a 1950 law that Castillo said could expedite the process of giving more resources and supplies to medical staff working through the pandemic.
“Talisa [Hardin] talked about how she and other nurses had to buy their own PPE because the hospital didn’t provide what they needed,” NNU wrote in a statement to CNN. “And Talisa [Hardin] said how this was disgraceful because you wouldn’t send a soldier into battle without gear.”
Both Hardin’s mother and uncle have contracted COVID-19. Her uncle is currently in the hospital.
Hardin is a registered nurse at the University of Chicago Medical Center and previously testified to the House Oversight Committee in May on behalf of the medical center and NNU, which is the union that she’s a member of.
“The percentage of patients under investigation who eventually test positive for the virus is very high, but our hospital management has consistently refused to give nurses in my unit the protections that we need to avoid exposure and infection,” Hardin said, according to written testimony.
She said that the medical center failed to give them face shields, hospital gowns and other necessary equipment they needed to fight the coronavirus.
“As a nurse, it was deeply disappointing to listen to hospital attorneys, people who have zero experience with medical or nursing care, refuse to listen to health care professionals in their hospital. Management was consistently condescending and patronizing to our nurses,” Hardin said.
Hardin says that the lack of resources available to medical staff has increased the risk of transmitting the virus to medical workers and their families.
Hardin had to spend Mother’s Day away from her daughter after sending her away to live with her grandmother.
“When I come home every day, I live in fear of contracting the virus,” Hardin told Congress. “When I get home, I have to take off my scrubs because the hospital won’t give us hospital scrubs. I leave them outside in a plastic bag for a few days before I bring them in to wash them.”
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