VA hospital support 3

The president of a local union, representing workers at the Wilmington VA Medical Center in Elsmere claimed staff members aren't getting the personal protective gear (PPE), training, or extra pay they need during the coronavirus pandemic while a hospital representative begged to differ.

Marcellus Shields heads Local 342 of the American Federation of Government Workers, and said a lack of preparedness, he attributed to the Trump administration has led to mismanagement by hospital leadership.

"[We're experiencing] change of duties, delays in telework [and] reasonable accommodation, no hazard pay, misappropriation of supplies, misinformation on testing," said Shields.

Wilmington VA Public Affairs Officer Jacob Dillon said they've done a good job adapting to a constantly-evolving situation. He said proper procedures are followed and no one lacks equipment they need.

"Everybody from admin people to front-line workers wear proper PPE and masks, and practice social distancing when it comes to giving health care to our veterans," said Dillon.

Shields said management's lack of planning for the crisis has led to several problems, including overworking staff.

"[They're] detailing and making nurses work 12 hours, four days in a row, which is just too much. There are so many things that were done wrong, and I'm sure that they tried, but they just was [sic] not prepared," said Shields.

Dillon disputed Shields' claims, including his assertion that workers are forced to wear surgical masks, generally used for a maximum of two hours for as long as a week.

"I can't speak to his claims...I don't know where he got that quote from, but I can just tell you that we provide PPE to our staff, to ensure the safety of our veterans," said Dillon.

Union members held a protest Saturday afternoon, marching from its office on New Road to the hospital, and the event was reportedly sparsely attended, but Shields said union members around the country are planning similar events all year.