By: Rachel Suga, Writer / Follow South Jersey Bridgeton City Intern
BRIDGETON, N.J. — Mayor Albert B. Kelly’s NJ.com opinion piece published on March 22 highlighted his belief that healthcare workers have not been appreciated nearly enough, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Acknowledging the doctors and nurses who are on the front lines was an important point Kelly wanted to make, but he made it clear that there are plenty of healthcare workers that have gone nearly unnoticed by the public. Aides are often forgotten, as they are not only unrecognized by the public, but within their wages as well.
“Undervaluing” those who are doing jobs that are perhaps undesirable in the medical field are just as deserving of the spotlight as those in more glamorous, visible positions, according to Kelly. The people that change patients’ bedsheets, clean, replace soiled bedpans, and other duties that are either not memorable or advantageous in the medical field, are vital to the greater picture of healthcare.
People who hold these positions tend to be women of color. Numerous lives have been lost during the pandemic, especially in their positions. The race and gender of workers is a trait that has to be recognized as well, as this career path was one of the only options for the women due to the systems put in place in the United States, including the education they have received, according to Kelly.
The pandemic has truly set the stage for people of all race and gender, as recognition for all healthcare workers has been put front and center in the care of those infected with coronavirus. Seeing suffering and death, workers — especially aides — have suffered themselves. Some have tested positive for the virus themselves from being at work, as well as the emotional and physical tolls they have grappled with since the virus began impacting the United States in March of 2020. Nodding to these issues, Kelly shows his support for all workers through his writing.
“We would do well to acknowledge that value with a little more respect and better pay,” Kelly wrote on NJ.com.
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This article was produced by a Follow South Jersey news intern thanks to a grant provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through the New Jersey Health Initiatives program to create hyper-local news to meet the informational and health needs of the City of Bridgeton, N.J.