By CHERIKA CARTER
CLINTON, Wash. (April 30, 2020) –In her 38-year career in nursing and education, Registered Nurse and UFCW 21 member Suzanne Woodard has seen firsthand the importance of having a strong union and effective government leaders in delivering quality health care in her community. That’s why she decided to run this year for State House of Representatives — to “bring healthy change” to Washington’s 10th Legislative District.
What she has witnessed during the COVID-19 pandemic in her community has strongly reinforced her convictions.
“I remember when I was in college studying the 1918 flu epidemic as an historical artifact,” Woodard said. “In our modern advanced First World country, weren’t we glad that we would not have to face that devastation? How wrong we were. With all that is going on now, it is the union presence that is protecting our medical workforce as the healthcare supply chain has faltered. We are faced with a treatment regimen for COVID-19 that is hardly much better than what was available in 1918, due to failure of our federal government to prepare and plan.”
Woodard was a participant in the Washington State Labor Council’s Path to Power program. This training provides union members and local community activists with the tools and tips to run a successful political campaign and get elected in an effort to build power that will positively influence our communities. Now she hopes to represent the 10th LD, which is Island County and parts of Skagit and Snohomish counties, as a Democratic member of the state House.
As a neonatal nurse who has delivered babies in local hospitals for decades, Woodard is frustrated and angry that her professional peers lack basic Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), but proud of her union’s successful efforts to locate and distribute PPE to healthcare workers on the front lines of the pandemic.
“Staff have depleted the PPE available to them, without a replacement plan or stock available,” she said. “There are even cases in the Pacific Northwest of healthcare workers being fired for attempting to use PPE they purchased on their own to protect themselves and their families when it was unavailable at their work stations. UFCW 21 is mounting a defense and working closely with these members and imploring corporate leaders to work together to resolve this safety hazard. That way, our frontline medical community can focus on what they need to — treating our communities safely.”
Woodard is already talking about what she will do, if elected State Representative, to avoid this in the future. She says that this PPE supply-chain breakdown will be “an area of great scrutiny for community review (in order to) avoid this problem for future generations.”
Unlike the failures and disorganization at the federal level, Woodard has generally been pleased with the response here in this state.
“I am very glad that I live in Washington state, where we have government leaders — local and state — who rose to the occasion and instituted stay-at-home precautions promptly,” Woodard said. “There is no doubt that it has saved lives. My focus has been to stay in contact with my community and support my neighbors.”
Long before it was recommended by the CDC, she was urging folks in her area to wear masks when out in public — even posting directions online about how to make simple masks. She has also been advocating for people to donate blood as the local blood banks are in desperate need right now. But her favorite activity during amid the stay-home order is to connect with people in her area.
“One of my most satisfying activities has been my phone bank calling senior citizen residents to inquire of their health status and answer questions they may have,” Woodard said. “Most all of them are happy to talk to an RN and often feel very isolated in this rural area — so they have a lot to say!”
Her conversations with people in her community amid the COVID-19 crisis, have made her even more motivated to work hard and get elected to represent their interests.
“This pandemic recovery will be steep and affect all members of our state,” Woodard said. “Now more than ever, it is proven that it DOES matter who is voted into office and it WILL affect your life. In Olympia, I want to use my medical background and my union voice to protect working families and our retired community members to ease the transition and reflect the true fabric of our neighborhoods. Health care will be huge, but the state will face economic and educational challenges as well. And I am up for the challenge!”
Learn more about Suzanne Woodard at www.suzannewoodard.com.
Cherika Carter is Political and Strategic Campaigns Director for the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO. The WSLC has not yet taken endorsement action in this race. WSLC endorsements will be considered at the council’s Virtual COPE Convention on Saturday, May 16. Cherika can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PREVIOUSLY in Cherika’s Corner:
Voters can send a nurse to Olympia in King Co.’s 5th LD — WSNA member Ingrid Anderson wants to broaden her public service to the Washington State Senate/