An interview with Shelly Hughes and Susie Young

Some of the first US cases of coronavirus came from Washington nursing homes. We spoke to a nursing home worker and in-home care worker in the state about what it’s like providing care in the midst of a pandemic, and the brutal low-wage working conditions, worker shortages, and lack of decent health care that can only worsen the crisis.As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread, the inability of our privatized and fragmented health care system to respond has been laid terrifyingly bare. While nearly every part of the country is now affected, Americans first started hearing about outbreaks in Washington State nursing homes.

Much like other private health care providers, nursing homes and long–term care generally have been both underfunded by the public and cruelly exploited for profit by corporations for years. This treatment of some of the most vulnerable people in society normally flies under the radar, but the explosion of COVID-19 drew attention to how we care for the elderly in the United States.

Last week, as most of us were only starting to grasp the scale of the pandemic, Andrej Markovcic spoke with Shelly Hughes, a nursing home worker in Bellingham, WA, and Susie Young, an in-home care agency worker in Spokane, WA. Both are members of SEIU Local 775. We discussed the state of long–term care and what made it not only possible but predictable an outbreak like this could happen in nursing homes.

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