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News


04/30/2020
 
Posted By: Council 93

The union representing more than 6,500 direct care workers and support staff in Massachusetts State Human Services facilities and group homes has asked the Administration of Governor Charles Baker to establish a public, online system for reporting data on COVID-19 infections among staff and the patients and clients in their care.

Council 93 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) reached out to officials in the administration during the weekend of April 17-19 to suggest the issuance of regular, easily-accessible online reports on patient/client and staff infections for each human services facility under the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS).

In the days that followed, some reports were emailed to staff at select human services facilities but the union has yet to see seen evidence of a consistent, public reporting system for all facilities as requested.

The union believes the reports are necessary to put an end to sporadic media reports of infections at select facilities under EOHHS, which have created a great deal of confusion and concern among families with loved ones receiving care in these facilities, as well as the front-line staff.

"Concerned families, AFSCME members, and the media are turning to us for answers and we cannot and should not be the official source of this critical information," said AFSCME Council 93 Executive Director Mark Bernard. "The families and staff deserve to know what is happening in each facility and they shouldn't have to hunt for that information or rely on any source other than the commonwealth. We realize that the information provided in these online updates may be disturbing, but the fear and panic associated with the unknown is, in many respects, worse."

In an effort to further calm concerned individuals and families, the union is also asking that the reports include specific information on steps being taken to reduce the spread of the virus at each individual facility and group home under EOHHS.

Bernard said the union's effort is not aimed at criticizing the Baker Administration. Rather, the union is calling for the online reporting system to provide "some measure of comfort" to families and staff who are searching for answers. "This is not a complaint. It's offered as a well-intentioned suggestion," Bernard said. "We're all in this together and like our members, we believe Governor Baker and his team are doing the best they can under increasingly difficult and rapidly changing circumstances. But the bottom line here is that concerned parties deserve to know what is happening in these facilities, and they need to have easy access to the most up-to-date information from a single source. We stand ready to help in any way we can."

Media inquiries can be directed to Jim Durkin at 978-866-2283 or by email

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AFSCME Council 93

AFSCME Council 93 represents more than 45,000 state, county and municipal employees in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont.

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