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New Interactive Project Commemorates Harrowing Experiences of Buffalo Healthcare Heroes Fighting The COVID-19 Pandemic and the Mercy Hospital Strike

01 Feb, 2022

For Immediate Release: February 1, 2022

New Interactive Project Commemorates Harrowing Experiences of Buffalo Healthcare Heroes Fighting The COVID-19 Pandemic and the Mercy Hospital Strike

Buffalo, NY - The Communications Workers of America District One, in collaboration with healthcare workers and local artists Brendan Bannon and Ariel Aberg-Riger, unveiled an interactive website chronicling the harrowing stories of Buffalo healthcare heroes at Mercy Hospital who have spent the last two years fighting on the frontlines against the COVID-19 pandemic. The project helps commemorate the groundbreaking contract secured by Catholic Health workers, which included across the board wage increases, improved staffing ratios and affordable healthcare, following a strike at Mercy Hospital that began in October 2021 and lasted more than a month.

Through self portraits of the workers and audio stories that detail first hand accounts about the unprecedented challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the website provides workers a unique opportunity to directly share their stories and experiences with the public, and comes at a moment where the healthcare system is on the verge of collapse. 

Hospitals are in the worst crisis since the start of the pandemic. Workers are caring for double the number of patients than they normally would. Record numbers of COVID-19 infections have resulted in long wait times for patients, who are often held in hallways. All of this is exacerbated by a continual shrinking of the workforce, as more and more workers continue to retire or quit every day.

The project includes dozens of workers from Mercy Hospital, from environmental services and dietary workers to lab technicians and registered nurses. Several workers spoke about the constant fear of passing on COVID to their patients and loved ones.

“I am a caregiver. My biggest fear during this pandemic was knowing it could come from anywhere,” said Jamie Banks, a CT Technologist at Mercy Hospital.  “The chance of possibly hurting my husband, my kids or my family, not to mention anyone else is an awful burden to carry each day you report to work.”

Others spoke about the overwhelming burden of battling COVID in the beginning of the pandemic. 

“So you just had to get into your own just little space, concentrate on what you do best” said Chris Anderson, registered nurse at Mercy Hospital. “When we first came in what they were saying is, everything we are gonna do will more than likely not matter. But as we got to know more about the virus and treatment, people were staying alive and mortality rates was better.”

“I hope New Yorkers and everyone from across the nation will listen to the voices of these healthcare workers,” said Vice President of CWA District One Dennis Trainor. “Their incredible determination and sacrifice have saved lives and kept our healthcare system afloat during an unprecedented global pandemic. Yet our hospitals are still in crisis as this pandemic continues to rage on, and we must remain steadfast in our support of these heroes as they selflessly fight for our health and safety.”

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