CT State Workers Keep Essential Services in Operation Through COVID-19 Crisis

Connecticut state essential workers from Southbury Training School, the Department of Correction, Connecticut Valley Hospital and other agencies will share their stories from the front lines of novel coronavirus.

“Three of our co-workers have lost their lives to this terrible disease. One of our co-workers volunteered to work on the COVID19 unit and ended up losing his life. That is the ultimate sacrifice. He was a healthy guy,” said Lenese Robinson, developmental services worker at Southbury Training School with 27 years of service. “Coworkers have passed. Coworkers’ family members have passed. Even with this knowledge, we are still coming to work every day.”

“Before I was working in the COVID unit, I was issued one N95 mask for 4 weeks. During that time several residents became positive. We didn’t have any N95s on the unit,” said Mark Canestrari, also a developmental services worker at Southbury with 30 years of experience in the health care field. “If the state is going to ask essential employees to put themselves in a dangerous position, we need to be armed with the things that we need to keep us safe. We have lost co-workers and some of the people at the training school.”

“Connecticut Valley Hospital has been so underfunded during the last few years that basic programs and special services have had to be cut back,” said Dr. Theresa Porter, a psychologist at Connecticut Valley Hospital in Middletown. “The situation has worsened during this pandemic, with a skeleton crew left to care for our patients. We are still struggling to ensure all employees working with patients infected by the coronavirus have the N95 respirator and other PPE.”

These are the featured speakers today:

a. Rob Baril, President SEIU 1199NE
b. Mark Canestrari (Developmental Services Worker 2, Southbury Training School, 30 years state service)
c. Lenese Robinson (Developmental Services Worker 1, Southbury Training School, 27 years state service)
d. Shirley Watson (Licensed Clinical Social Worker, MacDougall-Walker CI Department of Correction, 22 years state service)
e. Dr. Theresa Porter (Psychologist, Connecticut Valley Hospital, 12 years state service)
f. Bill Garrity (President, UHP Local 3837, RN UConn Health Center, 24 years state service)
g. Dr. Christopher Steele (Primary Care Physician, UConn Health Center)

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