HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) — Nursing home workers gathered earlier tonight across Ohio and in West Virginia to remember the lives lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The vigils taking place across the tri-state area were not only to honor those who have died in long-term care facilities, but a call for more resources within nursing homes.
Huntington was the only vigil in West Virginia, joining five other vigils in Ohio, including Pomeroy. Nursing home employees and union workers laid down carnations on the courthouse grounds to reflect on the lives lost throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, but also raised awareness regarding the lack of resources long-care facilities have received, including PPE and Hero Pay.
Huntington vigil organizer Sherri McKinney said, “it’s hardly fair that a worker making 12 dollars an hour is expected to come in every day without the proper equipment, taking care of very acute, sick patients, and then to not have the right equipment to do that, it makes it even worse.”
The small observance was part of a national effort in recognizing the need in protecting our elderly.
“What you’re seeing today is nursing homes across the country, not just here in Huntington, West Virginia, but all across the United States are holding candlelight vigils or carnation vigils or whatever and we do what to take a moment of silence and we want to recognize what is happening in long-term care facilities and all of the people who have lost a loved one due to COVID and so that’s what the carnations represent and we want to make sure people are still aware and that workers are taken care of,” McKinney said.
In West Virginia alone, 43 of the current 88 COVID-19 deaths happened inside nursing homes, which is nearly 50%. None of those deaths took place in Cabell County.
“So we’re lucky in this area and we’re very fortunate in Cabell County that we’ve had such few cases that we’ve had but at the end of the day, we can do better, we can do better as a community…” McKinney said.