Frontline, Essential, and Invisible: The Needs of Low Wage Workers in Hospital Settings During COVID-19

Authors: Lisa de Saxe Zerden, PhD, MSW | Erica Richman, PhD, MSW | Alexandria Forte, MSW | Brianna Lombardi, PhD, MSW

Topics: COVID-19

Research Center: Carolina Health Workforce Research Center

January 4, 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant stress among health care professionals, and health systems are actively seeking ways to support the wellbeing of their workforce. Discussions about burnout often focus on doctors and nurses, however, lower paid, essential workers provide equally important services to patients and employees. Front-line workers in low-wage positions are more likely to be women, immigrants, and people of color.

This policy brief discusses the unique experiences of these low-wage health workers based on findings from in-depth qualitative interviews in 3 states (CA, CO, NC) with workers in environmental services, food services, and patient transport roles. This study was in collaboration with the UCSF Health Workforce Research Center for Long-Term Care.

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