“Enough is Enough.” Nurses, Healthcare Workers at America’s Largest Hospital System Sound Off to Investors about Lack of PPE, Dangerous Working Conditions, Health Concerns
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Healthcare Workers Call On HCA Investors
NASHVILLE, TN — Eight months into a global pandemic that has killed more than 200,000 Americans, frontline healthcare workers at the largest hospital system in the US, Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) Healthcare (NYSE:HCA), are raising concerns about the deaths of their coworkers and an acute lack of access to adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) directly to investors in the company.
In a letter to be released today, October 29th, nurses and healthcare workers call on HCA investors, such as CALPERS, the nation’s largest public pension fund, to seek the disclosure of key information from the company regarding what workers are calling, “HCA’s widespread management failures” in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
In recent quarters, HCA has reported significant profits while cutting back significantly on supply expenses: about $1.75 billion, down from nearly $2.2 billion in the same period last year (a decrease of roughly 17%).
These short term profits are at the expense of essential frontline caregivers and the health and safety of patients, families, and communities, caregivers say, noting that, as a recent lawsuit documents, “HCA asked us to work without adequate personal protective equipment, including masks, gowns, hairnets, gloves, and facial shields; required employees to work despite having COVID-19 symptoms; pressured employees not to take precautionary measures against COVID-19 exposure, such as sanitization, if they hindered efficiency; ignored worker complaints about lack of PPE; had inadequate contact tracing, and pressured workers to ignore workplace-safety measures. HCA’s troubling approach has become major news during the pandemic.”
Employees Seek The Disclosure Of The Following Information
In their letter attached, the HCA workers ask to meet directly with investors, and suggest investors ask HCA management to provide investors with the following information:
- The total number of HCA employees who have tested positive for COVID-19 with detail by title, race, and ethnicity.
- The total number of HCA employees who have died from COVID-19 with detail by title, race, and ethnicity.
- The company’s infectious disease prevention and control plan, including the company’s practices regarding hazard identification and assessment, employee training, and provision of personal protective equipment.
- An assessment of the company’s current PPE supplies and expected available PPE for the duration of the pandemic.
- An assessment of how the company has determined that the current and expected future PPE is adequate to protect its employees from COVID-19 infection, and specifically how the current and expected future PPE is adequate to implement the infectious disease control and prevention plan requested above in #3.
- A detailed accounting of the company’s supply expense decrease in the second quarter of 2020, as compared to the second quarter of 2019, ideally showing specific supply categories (especially PPE) and the expenditure amounts in each category.
- Any modifications of senior executive compensation during the COVID-19 pandemic, including whether or not the company is incentivizing executives through specific COVID-19 metrics to protect patients, workers, and investors.
A Message to HCA Investors from HCA Workers
We are writing to you as employees and on behalf of our colleagues at hospitals affiliated with Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) Healthcare (NYSE: HCA), the largest hospital system in the US.
We are writing to share information with HCA investors regarding the company’s management failures in response to the COVID-19 crisis and to urge you to seek additional information from the company regarding these failures. We believe these failures are of serious concern to all HCA stakeholders. In this letter we will share details of the company’s failure to value their most vital asset — their workers. We call attention to the potential impact of these failures on your investment in the company and offer suggestions for how to protect the long-term value of your investment in HCA on behalf of plan participants. As you will see in the information we share below, even though we as workers are at the core of the company’s ability to operationalize their business, we believe we are not valued by company leadership.
We are particularly concerned that HCA’s PPE protocols may be systemically putting lives at risk. Six months into the COVID-19 crisis, HCA is still not consistently providing life-saving PPE, and in some cases is instead forcing caregivers to utilize less reliable masks or to risk cross-contamination by re-using single-use PPE for multiple shifts.
These practices are not sustainable for us or our colleagues, as frontline nurses and caregivers. They are also not sustainable for our patients and the communities we serve, especially as nearly 200,000 people in the U.S. have died from COVID-19. We hope that after reading this letter you might be willing to meet with us to discuss these issues in more depth. We have included contact information at the end of this letter.
Read the full letter here.