The COVID-19 pandemic caught our hospitals by total surprise. Overnight, managers locked masks and wipes up because of short supply and told healthcare workers to recycle our PPE. We started taking extra precautions for ourselves and our patients but many of us still got sick, and some workers even lost their lives. That’s why we worked with State Senators Richard Pan and Connie Leyva to introduce and pass SB 275, a bill requiring our hospitals to stock enough PPE for emergencies.
With the help of State Senators Richard Pan and Connie Leyva, we introduced SB 275, and on September 29, Governor Newsom signed it into law, making California the first state in the country to require a PPE stockpile.
Here are the details:
- Hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, dialysis clinics and medical practices that are part of an integrated health system are required to build a 45-day surge-level PPE stockpile.
- The PPE must be “new and not previously worn or used.”
- Providers must provide appropriate PPE upon request of healthcare workers.
- The stockpiles must be established by January 1, 2023.
- Providers are subject to fines up to $25,000 for each violation.
- This victory for the safety of ourselves, our loved ones, and our patients didn’t just happen, we fought for it, and we won.
We shared our stories with legislators over Zoom, the public on social media, and reporters about problems we faced going in to work every day. We held “We Are Essential” actions across the state and a social media day of action focused on encouraging the Governor to sign SB 275 into law. And it was through our work that we just passed this historic, first in the nation, legislation that will ensure that California healthcare workers will not go unprotected during future emergencies. And we will continue to fight for a 90-day state stockpile for all essential workers.
When this pandemic hit, our employers were unprepared. Our state was unprepared. But we knew what needed to be done, and we took action to make it happen. And now, because we stood together, we will never be unprepared again.