Statement of George Gresham
November 5, 2012
President, 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East On Hurricane Sandy
We applaud all of our members in New York and New Jersey for their dedication and heroism during the storm and its aftermath. While most people were waiting out the storm at home with their families, our members were reporting for duty at hospitals and nursing homes to ensure patient safety as the worst storm in recent history tore through our area.
1199’s healthcare workers truly rose to the occasion as frontline caregivers. Many stayed on past their shifts or arrived early in order to help transfer fragile patients from facilities in Zone A. During the height of the storm, NYU Langone Medical Center’s generator failed, and 1199 members helped evacuate the hospital, carrying sick children down the stairs into awaiting ambulances on the windswept street.
Nursing home members assisted in the evacuation of 11 nursing homes located in the Rockaways, Coney Island and Long Beach. In New Jersey, 4 nursing homes in Atlantic, Monmouth, Somerset and Bergen counties were also evacuated and workers put in 36 hour shifts because of the impediments to relief coverage due to the storm.
Our homecare workers also went above and beyond the call of duty, staying with their patients throughout the storm to ensure their safety. In the post-storm aftermath, many homecare workers have remained with their patients as they await relief coverage which has been slow to arrive in most cases, given the power outages, transportation challenges and severe gas shortage we are all now struggling with.
During these trying times, all our members have shown the kind of courage and spirit that inspires us all. We are honored to represent workers of such great strength and resilience. We salute you.
While we weathered the storm, it has left devastation and tragedy in its wake. We extend our deepest condolences to all who have lost loved ones during this disaster. Our thoughts and prayers are with all the affected families.
For any 1199 members who have lost their homes or have been displaced by the storm, please call (212) 857-4306 from 9AM to 5PM or for immediate assistance please call the New York State Hurricane Sandy Hotline at 855-NYS-SANDY.