Garcia Testifies to Congress Regarding Swine Flu – Sum’09 Voice

June 2009

Miguel Garcia, RN, testifying to Congress

UNAC/UHCP member Miguel Garcia, RN, highlights the need for protections in the workplace for health care professionals.

UNAC/UHCP member Miguel Garcia, RN, testified on Thursday, May 7 before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor at a hearing on "Ensuring Preparedness Against the Flu Virus at School and Work."

"Because I work in the Emergency Room at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center, my fellow RNs are on the frontline of fighting the current outbreak of the swine flu," stated Garcia. "I am testifying on behalf of UNAC/UHCP because we represent thousands of nurses and other health care professionals who need consistent protections in the workplace."

Currently there is no comprehensive federal standard that requires employers to protect health care workers from an airborne virus like H1N1 or tuberculosis. There are OSHA and CDC guidelines, but to date these guidelines have only been voluntary.

"In many respects my employer is the exemplar in preparedness," said Garcia. "However, many health care employers have not taken the necessary steps to prepare and protect health care workers from a flu pandemic or the current outbreak of the H1N1 flu infection."

Utilizing its nationally recognized Labor Management Partnership, Kaiser has engaged its union partners to: 1) closely monitor the swine flu pandemic and its impact on patient and worker needs; 2) rapidly adapt guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); 3) monitor respiratory protection programs; and 4) implement an aggressive program of worker and member hand washing, which is vital to reducing flu infection and progression.